By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 18: A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators lead by Patrick Leahy (Democrat) and Marco Rubio (Republican) on Tuesday (Jan. 16) pressed Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the measures taken by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) in the registration row of Chinese state controlled media outlets operating in the country as foreign agents.
Other signatories on the official letter addressed to the DOJ including Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Tom Cotton, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Joe Manchin, III and Sen. Ted Cruz, all serve on either the Senate Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over the Department of Justice and enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), or the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which has jurisdiction over the FBI’s counter intelligence activities and DOJ’s National Security Division.
The group of senators argued why the Chinese state controlled media outlets such as Xinhua and GTCN (China Global Television Network) which has presence in many major cities in the US is not subjected to require registration under FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) when other state controlled media outlets like Russia’s RT and Sputnik Radio were put through the process back in November.
The bipartisan assembly of US Senators questioned the AG Sessions led DOJ on the steps taken by them to assess whether Chinese state-controlled media outlets are required to register as agents of a foreign principal under FARA and whether all disseminations in the U.S. by PRC media outlets, either on social media or US newspaper, comply with FARA’s requirements?
Considered as the Chinese Communist Party’s mouth piece, Xinhua’s North American bureau currently supervises Xinhua bureaus in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and San Francisco and has access through cable and satellite broadcasts in nearly 30 million US households.
Prof. David Shambaugh, Director of George Washington University’s China Policy Program, has said on record, “Xinhua has always had a dual role: to report news and to disseminate Party and state propaganda both domestically and internationally.”