Pompeo warns China after revealing it 'threatened to interfere' with work of US journalists in Hong Kong

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned China on Sunday, revealing he’s learned that the communist country has been threatening to stand in the way of American journalists in Hong Kong.

“It has recently come to my attention that the Chinese government has threatened to interfere with the work of American journalists in Hong Kong. These journalists are members of a free press, not propaganda cadres, and their valuable reporting informs Chinese citizens and the world,” Pompeo said in a statement.

He noted that this report could affect the U.S. evaluation of Hong Kong's status.

His statement added: “Any decision impinging on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms as guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law would inevitably impact our assessment of One Country, Two Systems and the status of the territory.”

It’s unclear which journalists he was referencing.

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China's recent crackdown on U.S. journalists not only echoed the Cold War era but came at a time when the world has been in desperate need of independent information by trusted journalists on the front lines of the global pandemic.

The Trump administration and China have been at odds with one another in a very public tit-for-tat feud blaming the other for the origins of the coronavirus as well as China's handling of the crisis.

This past March, China defended its decision to kick out U.S. reporters, saying it had been "compelled" to respond to "unreasonable oppression" of Chinese journalists working in the United States.

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"We urge the U.S. to take off its ideological prejudice, abandon Cold War mentality," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said. "China is not one to start trouble, but it will not blink if trouble comes. We urge the U.S. side to immediately stop suppressing Chinese media, otherwise, the U.S. side will lose even more."

China announced that it would be kicking out correspondents from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Voice of America and Time magazine. Beijing justified its actions as retaliation over new rules the Trump administration placed on Chinese reporters, including a 100 reporter cap from five state-run media outlets. The outlets had 160 reporters in total, meaning 60 would be sent back to China.

Fox News' Ashley Cozzolino contributed to this report.