Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday 21 October 2020


U.S. Escalates China Tensions With Further Media Restrictions

Peter Martin
  • Six more publications are designated as ‘foreign missions’
  • Move is part of tit-for-tat between nations over media outlets
U.S. Adds Further Chinese Media Curbs
U.S. Adds Further Chinese Media Curbs

The U.S. designated six more Chinese publications as “foreign missions,” adding to the list of media outlets it describes as controlled by Beijing which must meet requirements similar to those imposed on embassies and consulates in America.

The outlets include the Economic Daily, which provides an important window into Beijing’s economic views, and the Jiefang Daily, the official publication of Shanghai’s powerful Communist Party Committee. The others -- Yicai Global, Xinmin Evening News, Social Sciences in China Press, and the Beijing Review -- are less widely known.

President Trump Meets With China's Vice Premier Liu He
Michael Pompeo Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

“They are all substantially owned or effectively controlled by a foreign government,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Wednesday in a briefing. “We’re not placing any restrictions on what these outlets can publish in the United States. We simply want to ensure that American people, consumers of information, can differentiate between news written by a free press and propaganda distributed by the Chinese Communist Party.”

It’s the latest tit-for-tat action in the row between the U.S. and China over media freedom. In February, the U.S. designated five Chinese media outlets “foreign missions,” including Xinhua News Agency and the China Daily. Beijing responded by expelling more than a dozen journalists from three American newspapers. The two sides are also embroiled in an ongoing dispute over journalist visas, with each delaying the renewal of each other’s press credentials.

Media freedom has long been a point of U.S.-China friction. Whereas American media companies are largely private and protected by the First Amendment, China’s news organizations are either state run or closely censored. All are overseen by the party’s Central Publicity Department. Chinese government spokespeople have repeatedly condemned the “unreasonable suppression” of the Chinese media in America.

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