Following China’s announcement of the expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters from the country on Wednesday, more than four dozen of the newspaper’s journalists sent a letter to the Journal’s top executives urging them to issue an apology for the “racist” headline that prompted their expulsion, according to The New York Times.
“China Is The Real Sick Man of Asia” was the title of a Feb. 3 opinion essay by columnist Walter Russell Mead that China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang called “racially discriminatory” during a news briefing explaining the decision to expel the reporters. Shuang also demanded the Wall Street Journal apologize for the headline and punish those responsible. (RELATED: China Expels Three Wall Street Journal Reporters Following ‘Racially Discriminatory’ Opinion Article)
In a letter sent to executives of the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, 53 reporters criticized the newspaper’s response to the fallout from the headline and urged the executives to “consider correcting the headline and apologizing to our readers, sources, colleagues and anyone else who was offended by it,” according to The New York Times, which reviewed the letter.
More than 50 WSJ journalists signed a letter complaining about the paper’s response to the “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” headline that got three of its reporters expelled from the mainland https://t.co/cpcnDBXSqb
— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) February 23, 2020
In the opinion piece, Mead argued that Chinese authorities “are trying to conceal the true scale” of the Coronavirus. The decision to expel the writers came only a day after the U.S. State Department designated five media companies as agents of the Chinese Communist Party. The Wall Street Journal, like many international news organizations, is blocked online in China, and the “Sick Man” headline that provoked the expulsions was brought to wide attention there by state-controlled media, the Times reports.
Shuang’s statement added that “the Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and smear China with malicious attacks.”
The Wall Street Journal has not issued an apology, creating concern among the reporters that failure to do so immediately could “inflict further damage on our China bureau’s operations and morale in the short term,” the letter says, according to the Times.
A Dow Jones spokeswoman confirmed that the letter was received and that the company will “continue to push” to have the visas of the journalists that were expelled reinstated.