Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.) earlier this month spoke at the annual gala for a pro-Beijing newspaper that has registered as a foreign agent of China due to its influence activities in the United States.
Newsom lauded Sing Tao for its "journalistic integrity" and for providing "balanced news stories" to its readers. He also said the newspaper, which publishes daily in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City, has helped Chinese Americans acclimate to California.
Sing Tao is considered a pro-Beijing news outlet. Its owners are members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a government advisory group controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. One of the owners, Charles Ho, last year defended a national security law that has been used to arrest pro-democracy journalists in Hong Kong. The Department of Justice required Sing Tao to register this month under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law aimed at tracking foreign influence in the United States. Chinese state-controlled news outlets like CGTN, China Daily, and Xinhua have also registered with the Justice Department as foreign agents.
Newsom’s praise for the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece comes as he is campaigning to remain in office. Newsom’s opponents cited California’s high tax rates, homelessness problem, and lax enforcement of immigration laws as reasons to recall the Democrat.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) has also praised Sing Tao. The "Squad" leader thanked the newspaper in June 2020 for covering a roundtable discussion she held for foreign-language media outlets. Her campaign paid $728 to Sing Tao in April 2021 for ads touting the coronavirus vaccine and $2,755 for ads in June 2020, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Rep. Grace Meng (N.Y.), another progressive Democrat, has paid $12,364 to Sing Tao through her campaign since 2012, the most of any lawmaker.
Former Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) paid for $6,600 worth of ads in 2016. Royce, who was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee until his retirement in 2019, is currently a registered lobbyist for Chinese tech giant Tencent.
The Democratic National Committee said in May that it would place ads with Sing Tao and other newspapers to raise awareness about hate crimes against the Asian-American community. The Republican National Committee paid $2,855 to the newspaper in November 2020.
Sing Tao has had most of its success cozying up to policymakers in California.
Chesa Boudin, the progressive San Francisco district attorney, spoke at the Sing Tao gala. Boudin, who once worked as a translator for the government of Hugo Chavez, the late Venezuelan communist dictator, touted an endorsement from Sing Tao during his campaign in 2019.
Like Newsom, Boudin faces a recall in San Francisco. His critics say his criminal justice reform efforts have caused a dramatic spike in crime. Chinese-American activists have criticized Boudin amid a spike in attacks against elderly people of Asian descent in San Francisco. Many of the activists blame Boudin’s soft-on-crime policies and support his recall, according to the New York Times.
San Francisco mayor London Breed (D.) and state senator Scott Wiener (D.) also spoke at the Sing Tao gala.
Newsom, Ocasio-Cortez, and the Democratic National Committee did not respond to requests for comment.