A Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece ramped up its spending in Time, the iconic American magazine owned by left-wing activist billionaire Marc Benioff.
China Daily spent $656,885 to publish propaganda in Time from May 1 to Oct 31, according to disclosures under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That’s up from the $649,603 that China Daily paid the magazine in the previous six month period. Since 2020, Time has published articles in its print magazine and online promoting Chinese culture, Beijing’s climate change initiatives, and China’s technology as part of a content-sharing deal with China Daily.
Benioff, a prominent Democratic donor who visited President Joe Biden with his family at the White House earlier this year, began an aggressive push into the Chinese market soon after buying Time in 2018. In 2019, Benioff’s software company Salesforce struck a deal with Chinese tech giant Alibaba to provide cloud computing services for the company in China.
Time is strengthening its relationship with China Daily amid heightened scrutiny of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to influence American audiences through propaganda. The Department of Justice in 2020 required China Daily and other state-controlled media agencies to begin disclosing details of their content-sharing deals with American outlets. According to the latest filings, China Daily increased payments to Time as the propaganda agency cut spending in four other outlets—USA Today, Foreign Policy, Financial Times, and the Los Angeles Times—from $900,540 to $586,860.
Many of the China Daily articles at Time are human interest stories about life and culture in China. But others promote Chinese state-owned companies that the United States has blacklisted for aiding China’s military and its repressive surveillance state.
Last year, Time published a story which touted technology from DJI, a Chinese drone maker that the United States government has blacklisted over its surveillance of Uyghurs. One article about the Beijing Olympics highlighted contributions from China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., a state-owned enterprise that makes missiles for the Chinese military.
Benioff’s expansion into China has opened him up to allegations of hypocrisy. The billionaire, who has been dubbed "Tech’s Woke CEO," has been a vocal critic of conservative policies at home while ignoring China’s dismal human rights record. In 2019, he announced that Salesforce would no longer do business with any company that sells certain types of firearms or ammunition magazines. In September, he threatened to shut down operations in states that restrict access to abortion.
"If you’re going to discriminate against our employees, we’re not going to set up shop there," Benioff told CNN. "We have to be for equality, we have to be for dignity, we have to be for the equality and dignity of every human being."
Meanwhile, Benioff has heaped praise on China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s efforts to fight climate change. In 2018, he said China was "leading the way" in electric vehicle manufacturing. He praised China’s response to the coronavirus early in the pandemic, saying that "China has done an amazing job eliminating the virus from their country." Since then, mounting evidence suggests that the Chinese government lied about the origins of the virus. And this month, citizens across China have risen up against Beijing over its draconian "zero-Covid" policies.
While Time lends its platform to the CCP, another Benioff company has cracked down on American conservative groups. Slack, a popular instant messaging service owned by Salesforce, banned the Federation for American Immigration Reform from its services in June for violating its terms of service, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
A Slack spokesman told the Free Beacon it banned the group, which supports restrictions on illegal immigration, because it violated the company's policy forbidding incitement of hatred or violence and that the nonprofit is "affiliated with a known hate group."
Time did not respond to a request for comment.