Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian speaks during a news conference in Beijing, April 8, 2020.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian speaks during a news conference in Beijing, April 8, 2020.

China said Wednesday it has demanded that four American news organizations disclose details about their business operations in the country in response to what it called U.S. “suppression” of Chinese state-run news outlets.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at his daily media briefing that Associated Press, CBS News, National Public Radio and United Press International had seven days to submit to the Chinese government details about their staffing, finances, real estate holdings and other information.

“The above-mentioned measures by China are completely necessary countermeasures and are completely legitimate defenses compelled by unreasonable suppression of the U.S. said on Chinese media agencies in the United States,” Zhao said.

China’s announcement comes after the Trump administration designated four more Chinese state-controlled media organizations last month as “foreign missions,” a move that could force them to reduce staffing in the U.S.

When making the June announcement, the U.S. State Department said the four Chinese outlets, including CCTV, must submit a list of all staffers in the U.S. and any real estate holdings.

The U.S., which said the move was necessary because of their association with the Chinese government and the ruling Communist Party, previously labeled five other Chinese as foreign missions in February.

China expelled reporters from several large U.S. news outlets earlier this year after the U.S. limited the number of Chinese journalists who work in the U.S.

In addition to expelling reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, China had also ordered two other news outlets — Time magazine and the independent U.S.-funded Voice of America news operation — to give Chinese authorities detailed information about their work in China. 
 
A VOA statement issued at the time joined its U.S. media counterparts in condemnation of China's restrictions on free press. 

"In common with our colleagues at The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, we remain committed to our work in China and condemn attempts to curtail it. We are committed to continuing to serve as a consistently reliable, trusted and authoritative source of news to our Chinese-speaking audiences," VOA said. 

Nike Ching contributed to this report.