Fri, Feb 08, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Chinese network’s US bureau registers as foreign agent

COOPERATION:While disputing the US Justice Department’s definition of its ties to the CCP, CGTN said it registered out of ‘an abundance of caution’


The US division of China’s state-owned broadcaster, China Global Television Network (CGTN), has registered as a foreign agent with the US Department of Justice.

CGTN America, which serves as the Washington bureau for the network, registered in response to a request from the US government in September last year. Its ultimate parent, CCTV, a Chinese state-owned broadcaster, disputed the Justice Department’s characterization of its relationship with the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, but registered “out of an abundance of caution and in the spirit of cooperation with US authorities.”

In its filing, CGTN America disclosed a budget between Dec. 1 last year and Jan. 31 this year of US$8 million, including US$5.7 million for “employment related expenses.”

Its news operation employs about 180 people, according to the filing, which was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

As a registered foreign agent, CGTN America is required to disclose its annual budget and expenditures and other information under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law mandates registration with the Justice Department by organizations and individuals that attempt to influence US policymakers or public opinion on behalf of foreign governments.

The registration is just one example of the deeper strategic tensions playing out between the world’s two largest economies, even as US President Donald Trump seeks a trade deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Besides imposing duties on about US$250 billion of Chinese goods, the two sides are jockeying over Beijing’s territorial claims in the Western Pacific and a US-led effort to marginalize Chinese telecommunications firms over spying fears.

The Trump administration has also accused Beijing of interfering in US elections.

The Justice Department also asked Xinhua News Agency, the official state-run press agency of the People’s Republic of China and one of the largest news organizations in the world, to register in September last year, but it has yet to do so.

CGTN provides programming to audiences in more than 100 English-speaking countries, including the US, the filing showed.

The registration echoes those of US partners of Russian media operations in the wake of the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Several US contractors working with RT and Sputnik Radio were required to comply with the act.

The Justice Department cited a January 2017 intelligence community assessment on Russian efforts to interfere in the election that called the media outlets “the backbone of the Russian government’s propaganda apparatus.”

The Russian government retaliated by designating the US government-funded Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and seven of their affiliates as foreign agents in December last year.

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