By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 19: The States Department of the US has designated five Chinese media outlets as foreign missions of the Chinese government under the Foreign Missions Act, thereby placing them under the same constraints that embassies and diplomatic outposts are subjected to.
The media outlets are the U.S. entities of the official Xinhua News Agency; China Global Television Network, known as CGTN, the international arm of state broadcaster CCTV; China Radio International; the China Daily newspaper; and the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China.
The State Department document stated that the media outlets must, “inform the State Department of their personnel rosters as well as their real estate holdings.” The information submitted will be shared with other government agencies, including intelligence units, a State Dept. official said.
“These five newly designated entities are not independent news organizations – they are effectively controlled by the [People’s Republic of China. These five entities all meet the definition of a foreign mission under the Foreign Missions Act, which is to say that they are ‘substantially owned or effectively controlled’ by a foreign government,” the State Department document further stated.
“This action is long overdue. For years, these so-called media outlets have been mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party and these Chinese outlets are becoming more aggressive,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Axios.
The United States has previously designated outlets under the former Soviet Union as foreign missions in 1987 and the Vietnam News Agency back in 2010.
Observers say that China has used media outlets to provide cover for spies and espionage operatives clandestinely while also using the media outlets to actively spread the party’s propaganda and challenge international narrative on issues that Beijing deems ‘sensitive’ such as Taiwan, Tibet and Tiananmen square massacre.