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By HONG XIAO China Daily Updated: 2020-06-02 08:57
A screenshot of the Wall Street Journal's website. 

Since The Wall Street Journal published an opinion article titled "China is the real sick man of Asia "on Feb 3, public anger has continued to simmer among the Chinese.

The article uses the novel coronavirus to extrapolate about the consequences the virus could hold for China's economy and the global economy.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Monday that the ministry has lodged a protest with the newspaper.

"The WSJ article belittled our efforts to fight the epidemic. Its editor also headlined the article with a racially discriminatory and sensational title with no respect for facts and professional ethics. It hurts the feelings of the Chinese and has roused public anger and condemnation," said Geng.

Geng said China is calling for the Journal "to face squarely the severity of its mistake", make a public apology, and hold those involved accountable.

"However, what the WSJ has been doing since then is nothing but paltering," he said. "China urges the WSJ to take our concerns seriously and respond. We reserve the right to take further measures."

The column was written by Walter Russell Mead, the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College in Annadale-on-Hudson, New York, and the Journal's Global View columnist.

Mead responded to the controversy on Twitter on Saturday.

"Apropos of nothing in particular, a word to my new Chinese followers: at American newspapers, writers typically do not write or approve the headlines. Argue with the writer about the article content, with the editors about the headlines," he wrote.

However, Mead retweeted a comment that claimed China is attacking him and inciting a harassment campaign against him. The tweet says China "does not get to dictate our headlines".

A petition to the White House about the article started on Feb 6.

"Regardless of the author's view on China's problems, the title alone stokes racism against the Chinese," the petition said, which is still open on the We the People website.

We the People is a platform that enables the American public to speak directly to the government to seek change.

If it gathers 100,000 signatures in 30 days, it will be put in a queue to be reviewed by the White House. The petition will get "in front of the appropriate policy experts" for an official response", the website says.

"That such a racially discriminatory title was allowed on WSJ indicates arrogance and poor judgment in WSJ's editing choices. Such reckless comments against innocent Chinese citizens will only encourage racism and incur repercussions against Chinese or other Asian ethnicities," the petition states.

HONG XIAO in New York

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