(TibetanReview.net, Nov17, 2017) – A key statutory commission on US policy towards China has asked the US Congress to require Chinese state media entities to register as foreign agents, plugging a current loophole and noting their involvement in spying and propaganda, reported Reuters Nov 14. It cited the annual report of the US China Economic and Security Review Commission as saying that while China had tightened restrictions on domestic and foreign media, Chinese state media had rapidly expanded overseas, including in the US.
The report cited the commission, created by Congress in 2000 to monitor national security implications of US-China trade relations, as saying China’s state media expansion was part of a broader effort to exert greater control over how China is depicted globally, as well as to gather information. The official Xinhua news agency, for example, now had offices at the United Nations in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and San Francisco, the commission was reported to have pointed out.
“Xinhua serves some of the functions of an intelligence agency by gathering information and producing classified reports for the Chinese leadership on both domestic and international events,” the report was quoted as saying.
The US Government-funded rights organization, Freedom House, was cited as calling it a “loophole” that individuals working for Xinhua and China’s People’s Daily newspaper were not covered by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
FARA was passed in 1938 in the lead up to World War Two to combat German propaganda efforts to require foreign governments, political parties and lobbyists they hire in the United States to register with the Department of Justice. But while China Daily, an English-language newspaper owned by China’s government and ruling Communist Party, is already registered under FARA, only its top executives are required to individually disclose working for the publication.
On Nov 13, the government of Russia-backed television station RT America registered under FARA after US intelligence agencies in a report in January called it a “state-run propaganda machine” that contributed to the Kremlin’s campaign to interfere with last year’s US presidential election.
The report said a bipartisan group of US lawmakers was working to overhaul FARA after Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, and a business associate were indicted for failing to register under the law.