US designates five Chinese state media as foreign missions

The US designated five Chinese state media as “foreign missions,” to treat them accordingly. Image: Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty.

DHARAMSALA, 19 Feb: The US has declared major Chinese state media organizations operating in America as “foreign missions” and will treat them accordingly in its latest effort to rein in Chinese government activity.

The US State Department has announced that China’s five foremost news agencies — Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily and The People’s Daily — will officially be treated as foreign government functionaries, subject to similar rules as diplomats stationed in the United States, media reports said citing two unnamed senior State Department officials.

The development now requires the listed Chinese state media outlets to seek approval to buy or lease any property as well as to submit lists of all employees, including new hires and staff departures, with the State Department just as foreign diplomatic missions do.

The officials who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity have concurred that Beijing’s control of China’s state-owned media has become “more and more draconian,” under Xi Jinping as he aggressively uses it to spread Chinese Community Party’s propaganda.

While responding on China’s possible retaliation, one official has stated that the foreign news outlets in Beijing already work under strict rules and that the move was indented to create some transparency and will not impede Chinese media’s journalistic activities inside the US.

The State Department has reportedly informed the outlets of the new rules on Tuesday morning.

The New York Times has described the move as the latest in the Trump administration’s efforts to counter Beijing’s influence and intelligence operations in the US.

“The decision — debated in Washington for years but never carried out, in part because of concerns over restricting the freedom of the press — comes at a time when the administration has moved aggressively on multiple fronts to fight what officials describe as extensive Chinese influence and intelligence operations in the United States,” the report added.

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