The State Department is planning to designate five Chinese media outlets as “foreign missions,” calling them, in essence, state-sponsored propaganda and agents of the Communist Party of China, according to documents obtained by Fox News.
An official announcement is expected as early as Tuesday afternoon, according to three U.S. officials.
The U.S. offices of the five Chinese media outlets to be designated “foreign missions” are:
-Xinhua News Agency
-China Global Television Network
-China Radio International
-China Daily Distribution Corporation
-Hai Tian Development USA
The State Department is carrying out this action under authorities granted by the Foreign Mission Act, according to the documents. The designation has been in the works since December, one official said.
“Entities designated as foreign missions must adhere to certain administrative requirements that also apply to foreign embassies and consulates in the United States,” according to the State Department documents. “At this time, they must inform the State Department of their personnel rosters as well as their real estate holdings,” just like any country would about its diplomatic personnel.
Spies have routinely used diplomatic cover to hide their presence abroad.
The new State Department designation is meant to highlight “increasing” Chinese government media activities in the United States. The Chinese Communist Party has exerted more control over its state news agencies and that control has “tightened in recent years.” The Chinese government has “expanded” its overseas media operations, according to a State Department official.
“These five newly designated entities are not independent news organizations – they are effectively controlled by the [People’s Republic of China],” according to one of the State Department documents.
“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,” in this case the Chinese communist government, according to the State Department document.
It’s not the first time the State Department has designated media outlets as “foreign missions.” The last time was in 2010 with the Vietnam News Agency and in 1987, outlets under the former Soviet Union were designated by the State Department as foreign missions.
The move comes as the Trump administration has taken an increasingly hardline approach to Beijing.
Last week, the Justice Department charged four members of the Chinese army with stealing data from 145 million Americans in the hack of Equifax, a credit reporting agency, in 2017.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have increasingly called out China in public statements to highlight China’s nefarious activities. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Sunday that accepting Chinese 5G wireless technology giant Huawei would be “choosing autocracy versus democracy.”
In an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., accused China of not being transparent about the origins of the coronavirus outbreak. “We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that,” Cotton said. “We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.”
When the Arkansas senator was accused of spreading a conspiracy by hinting the virus was a Chinese bioweapon, Cotton pushed back in a series of tweets, laying out his hypothesis about the origins of the coronavirus in China.
Despite the hawkish tone in Washington, the Trump administration has made peace with China in at least one area — trade. Last month, President Trump signaled a partial truce with Beijing by signing “Phase 1” of a China trade deal.
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