US Congress cautions Associated Press’ relationship with Chinese state-run Xinhua

AP chief executive Gary Pruitt and Xinhua President Cai Mingzhao pictured during their meeting in Beijing on Aug 21, 2017.

DHARAMSALA, Dec 25: Lawmakers from both the Isle of US Congress has cautioned the Associated Press’ (AP) relationship with a Chinese state media.

“In sharp contrast to the AP’s independent journalism, Xinhua’s core mission is to shape public opinion in ways sympathetic to the CCP’s legitimacy and behaviour,” 14 U.S. lawmakers have reportedly written to AP’s chief executive, Gary Pruitt in a letter on Dec. 19, The Washington Post reported.

The Chinese communist regime, like all authoritarian regimes, is organized around manipulation and control of information and ideas the report said and added that under President Xi Jinping, it has rapidly and boldly expanded its efforts to influence discussion about China beyond its borders, in part through the global expansion of state-run media outlets.

AP’s chief executive, Gary Pruitt is reported to have travelled to Beijing in August last year to meet with Xinhua President Cai Mingzhao and the party later announced that “the two news agencies have broad cooperation in areas including new media, application of artificial intelligence (AI) and economic information.”

Xinhua functions as an arm of Beijing’s propaganda machine and also “serves some of the functions of an intelligence agency,” according to the 2017 annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission while the Justice Department mandated Xinhua to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act earlier this year,

The commission has further warned that Xinhua is rapidly expanding worldwide in an effort to undermine and discredit Western media outlets and control public discussion of China while asking the AP to release the text of its memorandum of understanding with Xinhua to shed more light on the arrangements between the two parties.

According to the report, though AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton has declined to answer whether AP would release the text of the MOU as the Congress has requested, she noted that their agreement with Chinese state media is to allow it to operate inside China and has no bearing on AP’s independence.

She further added that Xinhua has no access to AP’s sensitive information and no influence over AP’s editorial products.

Though its AP that is under the scanner of the US Congress, a recent assessment of the Chinese-language media landscape in the United States concluded that most media outlets are under Beijing’s control or possess a pro-Beijing editorial stance, the Epoch Times reported earlier this year.

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