Chinese Propaganda Organ Defies Feds

Rep. Banks asks Justice Department to investigate media org

Chinese president Xi Jinping / Getty Images
January 23, 2020

A Republican congressman is asking the Justice Department to investigate a Chinese propaganda organ that has defied a federal order to register as a foreign agent.

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) said it was "extremely troubling" that Xinhua News Agency, the "largest news organization in all of China," has yet to register as a foreign agent. He asked Barr to investigate whether the department could force the media organization to register as a foreign agent.

"Rep. Banks expects agencies like the Justice Department to begin fully utilizing their anti-foreign propaganda tools," Banks spokesman Mitchell Hailstone told the Washington Free Beacon.

The Justice Department previously ordered Xinhua News Agency and CGTN America, a state-owned television network, to register as foreign agents following an appeal from a bipartisan group of senators led by Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.). While CGTN has complied with the order, Xinhua News Agency continues to avoid registration, according to the letter.

Xinhua News Agency is part of China's shadowy multimillion-dollar influence operation in the United States. The effort has penetrated the nation's media organizations and the halls of Congress. China Daily, the propaganda paper of the Chinese Communist Party, has given millions to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post to publish more than 500 print advertorials. China Daily also delivers its newspaper to nearly all members of Congress every day, despite Banks's efforts to restrict its distribution on Capitol Hill.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires all U.S. entities funded by or under the influence of a foreign government to register as foreign agents and provide detailed disclosures about their activities, including funding sources and expenditures. Originally enacted to track German-sponsored Nazi propaganda during the 1930s, the law allows the general public to review these disclosures at any time.

While disclosures filed by CGTN America and China Daily can be found on the FARA website, a search inquiry for Xinhua News Agency returned no results. Xinhua News Agency did not respond to a request for comment.

Banks requested that the Justice Department verify that Xinhua News Agency is not registered as a foreign agent and asked what actions the department can take to ensure the propaganda outfit complies with federal law.

"Xinhua, and other Chinese propaganda rags, won't be able to evade FARA registration for much longer," Hailstone, the congressman's spokesman, said.

This is not the first time a Chinese propaganda organ has failed to comply with federal disclosure requirements. The Free Beacon previously found that China Daily failed to disclose details about its media purchases for 30 years. CGTN America failed to register as a foreign agent for roughly six years before the Justice Department order.