China has asked four US media companies to provide extensive employee and business information. This is a reaction to similar demands from Washington. The news agency AP, United Press International, CBS and National Public Radio now have seven days to provide explanations about their employees, financial operations, property ownership, and other issues, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian said.

"It should be emphasized that the above-mentioned measures by China are completely necessary countermeasures and are entirely legitimate defenses, enforced by inappropriate US suppression in Chinese media agencies in the United States," said Zhao.

The US government declared four major Chinese media agencies abroad in June. The State Department in Washington said that offices of CCTV, the Volkszeitung , the Global Times and the state news agency China News Service are mouthpieces of the Communist Party. The US government had similarly acted against the Xinhua news agency and four other Chinese media earlier this year.

China subsequently forced more than a dozen reporters from the Washington Post , New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal to submit their accreditations, which forced them to leave the country because their visas were tied to work. The Beijing leadership has complained of political oppression, influence on reports about the United States and a violation of press freedom. US President Donald Trump is pursuing a "Cold War mentality".