Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang. (Photo: Global Times)
"Don't those who have been insulted have the right to fight back?"
This was how a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry rebuked Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, over claims that the expulsion of three Wall Street Journal foreign correspondents due to racist headlines was "a restriction of freedom of speech."
In his statement on Wednesday, Pompeo accused China of expelling three Wall Street Journal foreign correspondents and said that China should not restrict freedom of speech.
This is not an issue of freedom of speech as Mr Pompeo claimed, said Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Geng noted that the journal published an article that smeared China with a racially discriminatory headline, reflecting the abandonment of both basic facts and professional ethics. The article triggered huge indignation and condemnation from China and the larger international community.
"As a self-proclaimed champion of freedom of speech, does Mr Pompeo believe such freedom entails publishing a racist, discriminatory and insulting article with no apologies whatsoever?" Geng asked.
"If Mr Pompeo thinks the Wall Street Journal has the right to insult others arbitrarily, don't those who have been insulted have the right to fight back?" Geng continued.
As for why those three specific journalists had their credentials revoked, Geng said, "We are not interested in the structural divisions at the Wall Street Journal."
"There is only one media agency called the Wall Street Journal, and it must be responsible for what it has said and done," Geng said.
The article, "China is the Real Sick Man of Asia" by Bard College professor Walter Russell Mead, published on February 3, sparked uproar in Chinese society. Many netizens said, "How could a world-renowned newspaper make such an intolerably racist headline?"