On Wednesday, (February 19) Kyodo News reported that the US government outlined five Chinese state-run media outlets as “foreign missions”.
They are the Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, and People’s Daily and China Daily which are run by Hai Tian Development U.S.A.
The US government has instructed them by law to provide information related to their employees and property holdings in the United States.
A Senior U.S. State Department official commented that, “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 US official added, “They are effectively controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China party state propaganda news apparatus.”
Another important factor underlying this, the US official explains, is that Chinese President, Xi Jinping exerts increasing control over all state-run media.
The request for the release of information regarding these news entities, the US department insists, is merely a move to “improve our understanding” and not to impose restrictions on the Chinese press.
According to US department officials, designating the five companies as “foreign missions” under the Foreign Missions Act does not mean they will become embassies or consulates or have traditional diplomatic privileges or immunities.
However, the five entities are required by law to notify the US government of their current personnel in the United States and changes to the personnel’s employment situations. Additionally, the US State Department requests for the Chinese media outlets to declare their US real estate properties and to seek prior approval from officials for subsequent real estate purchases.
Upon being notified of this move, China’s Foreign Ministry condemned the actions and urged Washington officials to forgo “ideological prejudices and Cold War zero-sum game mentality.”
In a press briefing held in Beijing, Ministry Spokesman, Geng Shuang said “The U.S. takes great pride in its press freedom. However, it is wantonly restricting and thwarting Chinese media outlets’ normal operation there.”
Mr Geng added that earlier this week China had revoked the press credentials of three journalists who worked for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). He reasoned that WSJ has refused to offer an apology for publishing an article” by Bard College Professor, Walter Russell Mead entitled “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia”. The article “smears the efforts of the Chinese government and people on fighting the epidemic”.
“The editors used such a racially discriminatory title, triggering indignation and condemnation among the Chinese people and the international community,” he added.
The discriminatory WSJ article is not viewable in China as online censors have blocked the Wall Street Journal’s website, along with other foreign media sites.