Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned China’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal foreign correspondents over an opinion piece published in the newspaper.
“Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions. The correct response is to present counter arguments, not restrict speech,” Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday.
“The United States hopes that the Chinese people will enjoy the same access to accurate information and freedom of speech that Americans enjoy,” he added.
The United States condemns the move by China to expel three @WSJ journalists. Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions. China should not restrict #freespeech. https://t.co/szm0ujq2Ua
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 19, 2020
China’s foreign ministry blamed the expulsions on an opinion piece written by Walter Russel Mead titled “China is the Real Sick man of Asia,” referencing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that originated in the country.
Spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that “the Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and maliciously attacks China,” according to Reuters.
The Wall Street Journal’s CEO said in a statement the publication is “deeply disappointed” and noted that there is a “complete separation” between the news and opinion divisions at the newspaper.
“Our opinion pages regularly publish articles with opinions that people disagree – or agree with – and it was not our intention to cause offense with the headline on the piece,” CEO William Lewis said. “However, this has clearly caused upset and concern amongst the Chinese people, which we regret.”