US Media Accepting Millions to Publish China’s Propaganda, Justice Department Warns

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China is spending millions to publish pro-communist content through U.S. media outlets. In the image, a newspaper consumer reads a copy of China's Africa edition of its daily newspaper in front of a news stand in the Kenyan capital on December 14, 2012.
China is spending millions to publish pro-communist content through U.S. media outlets. In the image, a newspaper consumer reads a copy of China's Africa edition of its daily newspaper in front of a news stand in the Kenyan capital on December 14, 2012. (Image: TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple American agencies have accepted millions of dollars from China Daily, a Chinese state-run news agency, to publish Beijing’s propaganda. The information, revealed in a recent disclosure filed with the Department of Justice (DoJ), lends context to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping’s recent speech calling for the creation of a more “lovable” portrayal of China.

According to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), China Daily is obliged to report on its spending activities in the United States twice a year. China Daily, which registered with FARA in 1983, was among a dozen Chinese media outlets that the U.S. State Department designated as foreign missions of the People’s Republic of China in February last year. As a result, the companies were forced to register their American properties and employees with the department.

According to the disclosure, China Daily paid over 1.6 million dollars in ad campaigns with leading media organizations such as the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, Time, and Financial Times for the six-month period ending on Apr. 30, 2021. Another one million dollars was paid to outlets such as Houston Chronicle and Chicago Tribune to print copies of China Daily publications.

Funds received by American outlets were:

  • Time – $700,000
  • The Seattle Times – $57,807
  • Chicago Tribune – $30,305
  • Financial Times – $371,577
  • Houston Chronicle – $66,678
  • Boston Globe – $67,433
  • The Globe and Mail – $329,898
  • Foreign Policy – $291,000
  • Los Angeles Times – $361,700

The Washington Free Beacon reports that many of the newspapers receiving China Daily funds are currently struggling financially. Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune have not made a profit for several years, and Los Angeles Times furloughed some of its workers last year due to low ad revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

China Daily reported total expenditures of more than 5.5 million dollars for the six-month period, including 4.5 million dollars in operational expenses and 1 million dollars for printing publications distributed through American media outlets. The company reported total revenues of over 5.6 million dollars, of which only around $255,000 was accounted for by advertising and subscription income. The remaining 5.35 million dollars was recorded as “fund from headquarter office.”

“China Daily’s sole purpose is to cover for the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing atrocities… Every U.S. outlet that supports China Daily has no right to talk about human rights or democracy. They should be ashamed of their complicity,” Republican Representative Jim Banks said to The Epoch Times.

China Watch propaganda

China Watch is a supplement published in major American newspapers, with content supplied by China Daily. In its 2019 report, Reporters with Borders (RSF) called China Watch a “worm in the apple.”

“Reasonably enjoyable reads and well presented, these China Watch supplements are nonetheless Trojan horses that enable Beijing to insinuate its propaganda into the living rooms of elites… The journalistic style and the tasteful layout can easily mislead the hurried or inattentive reader who trusts the overall quality of the newspaper he reads every day,” the report stated.

A November 2020 China Watch report in the LA Times praised the “opportunities” offered through “vocational training” to Tibetan people. “This appears to be a deliberate attempt to whitewash a report highlighting that over 500,000 Tibetans had undergone forced labor,” Free Tibet, an organization working to secure Tibet’s freedom from China, said in a statement

The Nov. 29, 2020 China Watch edition published by the LA Times carried an article with the heading, “More people sign up as organ donors.” In an interview with The Epoch Times, China expert Gordon Chang stated that the article shows “what China is most concerned about. And obviously, organ harvesting is on the list.”

A June 2019 report by the China Tribunal had found copious evidence of forced organ harvesting in China. “Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one – and probably the main – source of organ supply… The Tribunal has had no evidence that the significant infrastructure associated with China’s transplantation industry has been dismantled,” the report stated. 

‘Lovable’ portrayal

In late May, Xi Jinping spoke at a study session held by the CCP Central Committee. He called for a more “lovable” portrayal of the country at the international level. In addition, he asked party departments to spread the “voice of China” and “tell the China story well,” so as to improve China’s image, cultural appeal, and to “guide international public opinion.”

“It is necessary to strengthen the propaganda and interpretation of the CCP, to help foreigners realize that the CCP really strives for the happiness of the Chinese people, understand why the CCP is capable, why Marxism is practiced, and why socialism with Chinese characteristics is good,” Xi said. The president stressed that China should be viewed around the world as “credible, lovable, and respectable.”

With reporting by Prakash Gogoi.

  • Steven Li is a medical professional with a passion for lifelong learning and spreading positivity and truth to the world. He has a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree and a passion for business and marketing, cultivated through healthcare and technology-related consulting projects. He also has a love for music and the performing arts.