A man reads a newspaper in Hong Kong, March 2017
Dagmar Schwelle / laif/ Redux

China’s expulsion of more than a dozen American journalists is being heralded as another step toward a new Cold War. Chinese officials are crowing about sovereignty; the expulsions, by their telling, are merely a proportionate response to moves by the Trump administration to limit to 100 the number of Chinese citizens who can work in the United States for five state-run Chinese news organizations. But the comparison doesn’t hold up: Beijing is effectively clearing out the three best independent news organizations in China, while its media companies in the United States are widely understood to be outlets for propaganda and will continue to spout the party line.

What’s particularly ironic, however, is that while readers in the United States are going to be hurt by China’s decision to purge Americans from the bureaus of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, the

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  • JOHN POMFRET is the author of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom and former Beijing Bureau Chief of The Washington Post.
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