Chinese state-owned broadcaster registers with US as foreign agent under anti-propaganda law

  • CGTN America chose to comply ‘in the spirit of cooperation with US authorities’
  • Russian state-backed English-language news outlet RT registered in 2017
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2019, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2019, 6:33pm

CGTN America – the US division of China Global Television Network – denied that it was engaged in any “political activities” as defined by the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), a federal law from 1938 that monitors the operation of overseas lobbyists and propagandists.

China Global Television Network was, until January 2017, the name of the international operation of state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

CGTN America said it had “elected to file this registration statement out of an abundance of caution and in the spirit of cooperation with US authorities”.

It identified itself as the Washington news bureau of CCTV to produce material for 24-hour broadcasts that target English-speaking audiences in more than 100 countries.

CCTV disagreed with the decision by the US Department of State to characterise CGTN America’s relationship with a foreign government and a foreign political party as one of interest to Washington, it said.

CGTN America’s registration was filed as Beijing and Washington sought to end a damaging trade dispute.

On Friday, a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He concluded two days of talks in Washington, while a US party – to be led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – is expected in Beijing this month.

Those talks may pave the way for a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump before a trade war truce expires on March 1.

CGTN America’s registration took place about six months after Washington ordered it and Xinhua News Agency to acknowledge their affiliation with Beijing and disclose ownership and budgets. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said at the time this order was “politicising” media activities.

Xinhua, one of the major official mouthpieces of the Communist Party, has not registered.

Under the registration act, which was enacted to counter Nazi Germany’s propaganda efforts in the US – CGTN America must update its registration filing with the US government every six months and submit copies of reports to the justice department for scrutiny within 48 hours of distribution.

Washington’s surveillance of foreign media has intensified since late 2017 when RT, the Russian state-backed English-language news outlet, was ordered by the justice department to register as a foreign agent amid investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

While chairing a UN Security Council meeting in September, US President Donald Trump accused Beijing of planning to interfere in November’s congressional election because of his trade policies against China, although those accusations were not substantiated.

Source: SCMP

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