U.S. voices concern over harassment of media covering China floods

FILE PHOTO: Aerial view shows a flooded road following heavy rainfall in Zhengzhou
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States is "deeply concerned with the increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of U.S. and other foreign journalists" covering recent floods in China's Henan province, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday.

China's harsh rhetoric toward news it perceives as critical "has provoked negative public sentiment leading to tense, in-person confrontations and harassment" of journalists, Price said in a statement.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a regular news conference in Beijing on Friday that the United States was distorting facts and had shown its "double standards" by imposing measures against Chinese journalists.

The two countries have exchanged several tit-for-tat actions involving media organisations, with China expelling several U.S. journalists and the United States slashing the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work at the U.S. offices of major Chinese state-owned media.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said on Tuesday that journalists from several media outlets covering recent floods in China were harassed online and by local residents, with staff from the BBC and Los Angeles Times receiving death threats.

"We call on the PRC to act as a responsible nation hoping to welcome foreign media and the world for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games," Price said.

(Reporting by Eric Beech, Cate Cadell and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Sandra Maler and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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