Wang Wenbin, China's foreign ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday that China would retaliate if the "hostile action" against Chinese journalists by the US persisted, as they may be forced to leave the Trump-led nation soon due to the non-extension of their visas.

During a daily briefing, Wang told reporters that Chinese journalists currently in the US had not been granted an extension of their visas, as the US on May 11 limited their stay to only 90 days, with an option for extension.

"The US has been escalating its actions against Chinese journalists. The US should immediately correct its mistake and stop its actions. If the US persists, China will take a necessary and legitimate response to safeguard its rights," Wang told reporters.

China Prepared for Worst Case Scenario

US China flag
US China flags Reuters

Wang did not say how many Chinese journalists were affected or what retaliation China might consider, but the editor of China's Global Times newspaper said earlier US journalists based in Hong Kong would be among those targeted should Chinese journalists be forced to leave the United States.

"Chinese side has prepared for the worst scenario that all Chinese journalists have to leave," Hu said on Twitter. "If that's the case, Chinese side will retaliate, including targeting US journalists based in HK." The Global Times is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party.

Rapidly Eroding Ties Between the 2 Nation

The two countries, whose relations have deteriorated sharply recently over various issues including trade and the novel coronavirus, have exchanged several tit-for-tat actions involving journalists in recent months. The United States in March slashed the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work at the US offices of major Chinese state-owned media to 100 from 160.

China expelled US journalists working for three US newspapers - New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post - this year and has threatened to match any more US action against Chinese journalists.

(With inputs from agencies)