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China Eyes Forbes With Offer to Buy Multi-Million Dollar US Outlet: Report

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: June 2, 2022
Former_Forbes_Headquarters_Manhattan
The former headquarters of Forbes on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, now owned by New York University. (Image: via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

A number of reports have revealed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is making a play to acquire American news corporation Forbes. According to a group of Republican senators, Magnum Opus Acquisition Ltd. — a Chinese government-controlled company — first put in their bid to purchase the financial analysis outlet in August last year. 

Now that the deal appears to be nearing completion, it has sparked controversy, with many saying the move would enable the CCP to spread its propaganda in the U.S. via a well-established brand.

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A financial report by USA Today found that Forbes’ print form was once worth several billion dollars. Now, the magazine has been described by several analysts as “past its prime,” and estimated to be worth $400 to $500 million on account of its digital media accomplishments and past reporting. 

The purchase’s SEC filings show that Peng Chun, chairman of China Investment Corporation (CIC), personally signed paperwork providing Magnum Opus with its seed money in March 2021. Two days later, the state-owned company filed paperwork to begin the process of buying Forbes. 

The CIC has been known to be a direct extension of the CCP’s far-reaching influence and power. During the start of his career, Peng worked for 13 years in various roles with connection to the CCP’s “re-education” camps targeting the Uyghur Muslim minority from China’s Xinjiang region. These camps have been known for their rampant abuse of human rights, with many harrowing accounts of torture, abuse, forced labor and even genocide being reported. 

The CCP has had a long track record of targeting religious faiths and minorities for violent assimilation to its atheist ideology since its inception in 1949. In addition to Uyghurs, the Chinese regime has been subjecting Christians, Catholics, Tibetans and adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual practice to relentless human rights’ violations for decades. 

‘A serious national security threat’

According to the Republican legislators, a “Chinese-controlled firm’s bid to buy the Forbes media company poses a national security threat and would allow the CCP to push its propaganda by using one of the most recognizable American brand names.”

“Forbes is a recognizable American brand with immense propaganda value to the CCP,” Senators Tom Cotton (Ark.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Bill Cassidy (La.), wrote in a May letter to the U.S. Treasury Department, demanding that the Biden administration launch an investigation into the proposed Forbes purchase.

“The CCP’s direction of Forbes’ editorial content and business operations, or its access to Forbes’ financial and personal research, could present a serious national security threat to the United States,” the senators said. 

Shifting industry

In recent years, the digital journalism business has been distinguished by the rapid creation of “non-conventional” start-up companies in the field, as well as a growing number of acclaimed journalists leaving traditional brands to join new digital efforts. 

Forbes is the looking glass example of this “science,” USA Today wrote. Thanks to its sheer volume of free content, analysis and opinion pieces, coupled with artful editing — such as headlines that encourage clicking, Forbes has managed to “generate a lot of low-cost traffic and views, against which low-priced advertising is sold.” Still, as the media world continues shifting, many have said that the brand’s golden days may be well in the past, with the magazine offering, at best, “nostalgic value.”