Chinese mouthpiece paid US newspapers $19 mn in ads, printing: Report

Pro-democracy groups have long warned about the Chinese government's attempts to push propaganda through American news outlets.

One of China's main propaganda outlets has paid American newspapers nearly $19 million for advertising and printing expenses over the past four years, The Daily Caller reported citing documents filed with the US Justice Department.

China Daily, an English-language newspaper controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, has paid more than $4.6 million to The Washington Post and nearly $6 million to The Wall Street Journal since November 2016, the documents showed.

Both newspapers have published paid supplements that China Daily produces called "China Watch." The inserts are designed to look like real news articles, though they often contain a pro-Beijing spin on contemporary news events.

One insert from September 2018 touted an initiative pushed by Chinese President Xi Jinping with the headline: "Belt and Road aligns with African nations." The same insert ran a story titled "Tariffs to take toll on US homebuyers" that asserted that US tariffs on Chinese lumber would raise the cost of building homes in the United States.

As per the Justice Department reports, China Daily also paid for advertising in several other newspapers, including The New York Times ($50,000), Foreign Policy ($240,000), The Des Moines Register ($34,600) and CQ-Roll Call (USD76,000).

It spent a total of $11,002,628 on advertising in US newspapers, and another $265,822 on advertising with Twitter.

The Justice Department has for years required China Daily to disclose its activities semi-annually under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The most recent filing, which China Daily submitted on June 1, is the first to include detailed breakdowns of payments to American news outlets. The outlet disclosed those expenditures for the period between November 2016 and April 2020.

The Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle and The Boston Globe are all listed as clients of China Daily. The Chinese outlet paid the Los Angeles Times $657,523 for printing services, according to the FARA filings.

Pro-democracy groups have long warned about the Chinese government's attempts to push propaganda through American news outlets.

The report comes at a time when China Daily as well as other Beijing-controlled propaganda media outlets have come under intense scrutiny owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Chinese government officials have tried to divert blame for the spread of the virus to the United States and other Western nations. Many of the regime-controlled outlets, including China Daily, have echoed the communist leaders' talking points.



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