China has revoked the press credentials of three journalists of the Wall Street Journal after the newspaper declined to apologise for a column that called China the “real sick man of Asia”, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily briefing that Beijing made several representations to the paper over the column, which China criticised as racist and denigrating its efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic, but that the paper had failed to apologise or investigate those responsible.

Geng did not identify the journalists whose credentials were being revoked.

The action comes after the US said on Tuesday it would begin treating five major Chinese state-run media entities with US operations, including Xinhua news agency, China Global Television Network and China Daily Distribution Corp the same as foreign embassies, requiring them to register employees and US properties with the State Department.

Geng said China opposed the new rules and Beijing reserved the right to respond.

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