U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced that the administration has designated six Chinese media entities as foreign missions. According to Pompeo, this is being done to counter Chinese communist propaganda being spread in the United States. Taking into account these six outlets, the U.S. has classified 15 Chinese media organizations as foreign missions this year.
Media foreign missions
The six outlets that have been given the designation of foreign missions include Jiefang Daily, Social Sciences in China Press, Yicai Global, Economic Daily, Beijing Review, and Xinmin Evening News. Pompeo pointed out that the new designation does not affect what these outlets can or cannot publish in the U.S. The purpose of the designation is to make the U.S. public, and the world at large, aware that news and information from these media outlets is being published with the backing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Being classified as a foreign mission, the six media agencies will now be subjected to restrictions that are usually placed on diplomatic missions. For instance, the outlets will need to inform the U.S. government and gain approval before they buy office space. Approvals will also be necessary when hiring new staff members.
“Entities designated as foreign missions must adhere to certain requirements that increase transparency relating to their associated government’s media activities in the United States. Our goal is to protect the freedom of the press in the United States… Transparency isn’t threatening to those who value truth,” Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said in a statement.
China retaliated by declaring six American media agencies operating in China as foreign missions, asking them to report on their real estate transactions, funding activities, and employees. The affected outlets include the Los Angeles Times, ABC, Minnesota Public Radio, Bureau of National Affairs, Feature Story News, and Newsweek.
Hu Xijin, an editor at the Chinese state-run Global Times, accused the U.S. of poisoning the working environment of media outlets and warned that Beijing will “definitely retaliate” as long as Chinese media suffer harm. However, what Hu fails to mention is that unlike China where the government has banned journalists from speaking about certain topics, the U.S. gives journalists full press freedom.
Meanwhile, the U.S government has also declared the American branch of the National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification (NACPU) as a foreign mission. The organization is apparently being controlled by Beijing’s United Front Work Department, an entity that is tasked with spreading CCP influence internationally. Washington will be withdrawing a cooperation agreement with the NACPU.
Beijing’s propaganda is not only spread through Chinese media entities but also social media platforms. A recent report by researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) reveals that Chinese agents offered some social media users up to £280 (US$362) for sharing posts that praise the CCP’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Chinese regime wanted to “clear its name of blame” through the campaign.
The report found that almost 40 percent of the tweets using the hashtag #ThanksChina in Italian were fakes. CCP agents would create Facebook pages through which they would push the narrative that Western nations were responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. These pages also spread the fake news that European countries were stealing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).