Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) wants to end the circulation of the state-run China Daily to members of Congress, a vehicle used to spread propaganda about the country’s communist regime and its ongoing human rights abuses.
“Xi Jinping hopes China Daily will muddy American lawmakers’ understanding of his policies,” Banks told Breitbart News. “All of Congress must fully grasp the way the Chinese Communist Party’s brutalizes its own citizens and subverts the U.S.”
“We certainly must not tolerate the presence of China’s agitprop in our own offices,” Banks said via email.
Banks sent a letter to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, asking for a hearing on China Daily, which said in part:
China Daily is delivered to Congressional offices alongside independent newspapers like Politico and the Hill. So, uninformed staffers could easily mistake China Daily for a legitimate news source regarding China-US relations and the Chinese regime’s policies. That’s clearly the intention of the Chinese Communist Party.
China Daily has successfully injected party propaganda into our free press and even into our governing legislature. Propaganda that downplays China’s human rights violations. That is unacceptable—and Congress has a duty to respond.
A hearing in the Committee on House Administration would immediately reduce the effectiveness of China Daily, inside and outside of Congress. It would publicize the scope of China’s foreign propaganda efforts and the nefarious intent behind them. Members and their staffs would be less likely to mistake China Daily for a reliable news source and American publications would think twice before distributing Xi Jinping approved agitprop.
He said a hearing would also provide the opportunity to “consider legislative responses to China’s foreign disinformation campaign,” including prohibiting the distribution of Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA-registered publications to federal buildings, including China Daily and Russia Today.”
Banks’ effort to ban China Daily comes after the Washington Free Beacon reported on the deceptive content of the publication and how China “routinely broke federal law by not disclosing how much it spent to publish regime propaganda in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers, an expert review of foreign agent registration filings concluded.”
The Free Beacon documented how China Daily as a proxy of the Chinese communist government, has repeatedly violated the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA):
China Daily has published propaganda in mainstream outlets for decades, but did not disclose its purchases of space in American newspapers to the Department of Justice until 2012. Even after it began acknowledging its relationship with the papers, the regime mouthpiece continued to violate federal disclosure requirements. China Daily has failed to provide breakdowns of spending activities and withheld copies of online ads, among other omissions that violate federal law, according to experts who reviewed years of its FARA filings.
The Washington Free Beacon reviewed all of the physical copies of China Daily‘s ads filed with the DOJ, as well as online ads the propaganda outlet did not submit to the department. China Daily has run more than 700 online ads designed to look like news articles and purchased 500 print pages in six American newspapers over the last seven years. These propaganda articles frame state oppression in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong in a positive light and run alongside actual news stories produced by reporters at the Post, Times, Wall Street Journal, and other outlets.
The Free Beacon reported that a spokesman for the Post said the newspaper had ads from China Daily for three decades and noted that ad expenditures peaked in 2016, when it took out ads in more than 140 pages in American outlets.
Spokesmen for all three newspapers cited in the Free Beacon report declined to reveal how much they have taken from China Daily over the years.
Some examples of the propaganda include an article published in the Wall Street Journal in March that claimed the detention of Uighur Muslims in China was part of a “law-based campaign of de-radicalization.”
The Post‘s China Daily ad inserts since 2012 also pushed propaganda about its treatment of religious minorities, with one article published in 2013 with the headline: “Harmony rules in Tibet’s Catholic town.”
Yaqiu Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the Free Beacon article that the Chinese regime uses prominent American newspapers in the hopes of influencing reporting.
“These newspapers are doing a disservice to their brave journalists in China who are taking tremendous risks to report on the Xinjiang issue,” Wang said. “I think newspapers should take a more principled stance to reject those ads that are clearly not speaking the truth.”
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