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Medical team members board the flight to Hubei Province at Changshui International Airport in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Feb. 12, 2020. A medical team comprised of some 350 medical members left for Xianning City of Hubei Province on Wednesday. It's the third medical team sent from Yunnan to aid the novel coronavirus control efforts in Hubei. (Xinhua/Jiang Wenyao/IANS)

The article called the authorities’ initial response to the virus “secretive and self-serving” and said global confidence in China had been “shaken”.

Medical staff receive a patient infected with the novel coronavirus at the temporary hospital converted from Wuhan Sports Center in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu/IANS)

China on Wednesday expelled three foreign scribes of the Wall Street Journal over a headline in an opinion piece it said was “racist”.

The article published on February 3 criticised the country’s response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The Chinese foreign ministry said it had asked the newspaper to apologise several times but it had declined, BBC reported.

The newspaper said the journalists – who had not written the opinion piece – were given five days to leave China.

The article called the authorities’ initial response to the virus “secretive and self-serving” and said global confidence in China had been “shaken”.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the article was “racist” and “denigrated” China’s efforts to combat the outbreak that has killed more than 2,000 people in China.

“The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and maliciously attacks China,” Shuang said.

The Wall Street identified the reporters as two US citizens – Josh Chin, who is the deputy bureau chief, and Chao Deng – as well as Australian citizen Philip Wen.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China called the decision “an extreme and obvious attempt by the Chinese authorities to intimidate foreign news organisations”.

The measure comes a day after the US said it would begin treating five Chinese state-run media outlets that operate in the country in the same way as foreign embassies, requiring them to register their employees and properties with the US government.

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