National Security

Lawmaker Demands Hearing on Spread of Chinese Propaganda in Congress

Rep. Banks seeks to expose China Daily's subversion of U.S. law

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Rep. Jim Banks (R. Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is pressing congressional leaders to hold a hearing on the proliferation of Chinese Communist government-funded propaganda across Capitol Hill, according to official communications obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Following a Free Beacon exposé on the routine breach of federal law by China Daily, a propaganda organ run by the Chinese government, Banks is calling on his colleagues to investigate how and why Communist propaganda is arriving on the doorsteps of nearly every congressional office each day.

Banks spearheaded a related effort in September, when he petitioned congressional authorities and the Department of Justice to investigate China Daily‘s appearance across Capitol Hill.

The lawmaker's effort to hold the Communist Party paper accountable to federal law comes on the heels of a Free Beacon report exposing how China Daily has repeatedly violated federal disclosure laws by failing to tell officials how much it spends to publish regime-approved advertising in some of the nation's leading newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and at least 30 others.

China Daily‘s advertising supplements are designed to look like they are part of a U.S. paper's reporting pages. The ads paint the Communist regime in a glowing light and downplay the nation's routine human rights abuses. The failure by China Daily to disclose how much it is spending on this influence campaign appears to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, a federal statute designed to compel transparency in foreign influence operations.

Banks is continuing his effort to hold China Daily accountable and stop its spread across Capitol Hill amid fears the paper is influencing powerful members to take a softer approach to the Communist regime's abuses.

"China Daily is owned and bankrolled by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China—the agency responsible for monitoring and controlling all media produced in the one-party state," Banks wrote in a letter recently sent to the Committee on House Administration, a body that could provide oversight on the paper.

Banks has turned to the committee after his effort to pressure Chief House Administrator Philip G. Kiko to take action was rebuffed.

"In late September, I sent a letter to Chief House Administrator Philip G. Kiko, requesting he remove China Daily from circulation in Congress. He informed me that the ‘review of the topical content' of congressional communications is outside of his jurisdiction. So, I've turned to your committee for assistance in combatting this threat," the letter said.

Citing the Free Beacon‘s latest reporting on the matter, Banks noted that "the Chinese Communist Party committed $6.6 billion dollars to foreign propaganda efforts in 2009 and according to Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) receipts, has invested over $20 million on the China Daily since 2017."

Banks is concerned that China Daily and its advertising organ, the National News Agency, are "helping an authoritarian dictator influence American democracy."

"Uninformed staffers could easily mistake China Daily for a legitimate news source regarding China-U.S. relations and the Chinese regime's policies," Banks wrote. "That's clearly the intention of the Chinese Communist Party."

Congressional hearings on the matter could help pave the way for legislative remedies that would prohibit China Daily from making its way to Capitol Hill. One solution could be to enact a ban on FARA-registered publications from being delivered to federal buildings.

"This would include China Daily and other state-owned propaganda outlets like Russia Today," Banks wrote in his letter. "The committee could also draft a House rule mandating the inclusion of a disclaimer on all state-owned newspapers delivered to congressional offices. Such a disclaimer should identify the newspaper as propaganda and name the foreign government that produces and finances it."

Banks further requested that such efforts be considered immediately.

"There's a lot of rhetoric in Congress about ‘combatting Chinese influence' and being ‘tough on China,' he wrote. "Americans won't take our claims seriously if we can't prevent China from running a propaganda campaign in our own workplace."