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China urges United States not to put up barriers to reporting

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China has had discussions with the United States about U.S. plans to make some Chinese state media groups register as foreign agents, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, calling on Washington not to put up barriers to reporting.

The issue could further worsen relations between Beijing and Washington, which are already engaged in an increasingly bitter trade war, and may spur China to retaliate.

The Wall Street Journal said the U.S. Justice Department had demanded that China’s official Xinhua news agency and state television’s English station CGTN register as foreign agents, which could limit their access in Washington.

“Both sides have had contact and communication on this issue,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang replied at a daily news briefing, when asked about the report.

“We hope that the relevant side provides convenience and creates conditions for the media in carrying out their normal work, and not put up barriers.”

All countries should view the media with an open and inclusive attitude and not “politicise” the matter, he added.

Asked if China could take corresponding measures against U.S. media groups, Geng said it had always supported foreign reporters and expected them to respect the law and report in a fair and objective manner.

China blocks access to the websites of many foreign news organisations, including Reuters.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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