Justice Department Orders Chinese State-Run Media to Register as Foreign Agents, Report Says

Justice Department Orders Chinese State-Run Media to Register as Foreign Agents, Report Says
A Chinese newsstand with state-run newspapers on sale, in Beijing on December 6, 2016. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)
Annie Wu

The U.S. Justice Department is said to have ordered two Chinese state-run media organizations that are operating in the United States to register as foreign agents.

Xinhua News Agency and China Global Television Network—which is run by China’s state-run broadcaster, China Central Television—are required to register under a little-enforced foreign lobbying law, according to a Sept. 18 report by The Wall Street Journal, which cited unidentified people who are familiar with the matter. The DOJ didn’t respond to a question seeking clarification.

Justice Department (DOJ) spokesman Marc Raimondi said he had no comment when The Epoch Times sought to confirm the news via email.

While the newspaper didn’t identify the law in question by name, it’s almost certainly the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Passed in 1938, it requires foreign governments, political parties, and any lobbyists they hire in the United States to register with the DOJ. However, there are current loopholes in enforcement and definition that have allowed some media entities to go unregistered.

In January, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to require China-owned media organizations in the United States to register as foreign agents under FARA.

In the letter, the senators also expressed concerns about the registration rule’s lack of clarity: “While FARA contains an exception for certain news or press services, this exception does not apply to a news or press service owned, directed, supervised, controlled, subsidized, or financed by a foreign principal, or whose policies are determined by a foreign principal,” they wrote.

In particular, they asked Sessions about what steps the DOJ has “taken to assess whether Chinese state-controlled media organizations operating in the United States, including Xinhua, China Daily (beyond its U.S. distribution company that is already registered), and CGTN” and their staff are required to register as foreign agents under FARA.

In recent months, U.S. lawmakers have sought to counter foreign-influence operations, while U.S. intelligence officials have warned about the threats of Chinese influence and espionage.

In June, representatives Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) introduced legislation that would require U.S. intelligence agencies to provide a detailed report on Beijing’s influence operations in the United States, in addition to mandating that Chinese regime-funded Confucius Institutes located on American university and college campuses register as foreign agents.

Annie Wu joined the full-time staff at the Epoch Times in July 2014. That year, she won a first-place award from the New York Press Association for best spot news coverage. She is a graduate of Barnard College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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