On Monday, the Trump administration designated four Chinese state-run media organizations as foreign missions – declaring them operatives of the Chinese communist state rather than practitioners of journalism.
The organizations designated include China Central Television, China News Service, The People’s Daily and Global Times.
Under this action, staff working under these “propaganda outlets” will officially be treated as foreign government functionaries and will be subject to similar rules as diplomats stationed in the United States.
A complete roster of employees under these media groups will have to be submitted to the US State Department along with a list of their real estate holdings.
State Department officials have explained that their objective with this designation is to “increase transparency on the PRC’s obsessive control of information and news,” using the abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China.
Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell said in a teleconference on Monday that “this does not prevent them from reporting legitimate news, however, but we do have to have them acknowledge and let us know who they are and who they work for.”
His statements were reiterated by Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson for the US State Department.
“The decision to designate these entities is not based on any content produced by these entities, nor does it place any restrictions on what the designated entities may publish in the United States. It simply recognizes them for what they are,” she said in an additional press statement.
This latest exchange of press restrictions between China and the US follows a similar move made in February, which saw a similar designation imposed on five other Chinese media outlets; Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network (CGTN), China Radio, China Daily and Hua Tian Development.
After this initial move, a series of back and forth parrying ensued which resulted in Washington cutting and restricting the visas of over 60 Chinese journalists.
China has also since revoked the press credentials of up to 13 American journalists from the Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Post, as well as declared five US media outlets to be government functionaries controlled by Washington.
When questioned about Monday’s announcement, China’s embassy in Washington called the move “totally unjustified and unacceptable,” adding that it “once again exposes its double standards and hypocrisy of the so-called freedom of press.”
“Chinese media’s resident offices in the US have long been covering news following the principles of objectivity, impartiality, truthfulness and accuracy. However, for political purposes, the US side has repeatedly acted to restrict and thwart their normal operations and, again, broadened the scope of targeted Chinese media outlets here,” read the email response.
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