TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. State Department listed five U.S.-based Chinese media outlets as "foreign missions" on Tuesday (Feb. 18) as part of its counteractions against China's activities in the country.
The media outlets on the list were Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network (CGTN), China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation, and Hai Tian Development USA. The action was instituted on the back of the Foreign Mission Act, FOX News reported.
The U.S. office of Xinhua News Agency, which was at top of the list, was named an "agent" and mouthpiece for communist China. Xinhua published harsh criticisms against Washington following the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 and attacked the U.S. for what it said were double standards on issues related to human rights.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Axios that the five outlets are "clearly controlled by the [Chinese Communist Party], and we are simply recognizing that fact by taking this action.”
"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."
After being designated as "foreign missions," the five media companies will have to inform the State Department of their real estate holdings within the U.S. and changes to personnel, just as foreign embassies must do for national security reasons.
Three years ago, both Xinhua News Agency and CGTN were required to register as "foreign agents" by the U.S. Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. As a result, the two companies must disclose the relationships, activities, receipts, and disbursements involved in their operations.
A state-run press agency of the People's Republic of China, Xinhua News Agency has expanded overseas and publishes news in eight languages (Mandarin Chinese, English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and Portuguese) in more than 100 countries and regions, according to a study conducted by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council.
Based in Washington, DC, CGTN America is part of the international arm of China Central Television, which regularly airs Chinese Communist Party propaganda.
Taiwan became fully aware of the Chinese government's media activities in the island country following the 2018 elections and has taken steps to guard itself against political interference from the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait.
Last May, over a dozen civic groups led by the Taiwan Statebuilding Party proposed a Taiwanese version of the Foreign Agents Registration Act to curb pro-Beijing propaganda, demanding that Taiwan-based media outlets overtly pushing the interests of the communist regime be designated as a "foreign agents" in order to highlight China's increasing media activities in the country.
The proposed act, however, did not progress by the end of the legislative session. Instead, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party-backed Anti-infiltration Act was passed on Dec. 31, the last day of the session, and entered into force on Jan. 15. The two acts share the same spirit of reining in the spread of pro-Beijing propaganda and misinformation.
The violations specified by the 12-article act include receiving political donations from countries engaged in a military standoff with Taiwan, lobbying on behalf of the interests of hostile forces, and disrupting the social order and peaceful assemblies. As of Feb. 19, no one has been indicted in accordance with the law.