Secretary Blinken on Unchanged U.S. Treatment of China’s Big Outreach Media

On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, U.S. Secretary of State John Blinken said Wednesday (April 28) that despite China’s use of official media for propaganda and attempts to undermine democracy overseas, its designation as a foreign mission is not intended to shut down these media outlets, but to let the American public know that they are in fact in control of the Chinese Communist Party.

In 2020, the Trump administration’s State Department announced that a dozen Chinese media outlets, including Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China News Service, and Jiefang Daily, were identified as foreign missions. Staff members of these media organizations are required to register with the U.S. government, as are embassy and consulate employees. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in announcing the measures, has said, “We just want to make sure that Americans, as consumers of information, can distinguish between news written by the free press and propaganda done by the Chinese Communist Party itself. They’re not the same thing.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry retaliated against the United States by revoking the press credentials of American journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and expelling them from China. It also identified the three media outlets, along with the Voice of America and Time magazine, as media organizations controlled by the U.S. government and required them to report to the Chinese government on their operations inside China. Following China’s expulsion of U.S. journalists, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for its part, tightened visa restrictions on Chinese journalists in the U.S. to 90 days, with the option of extension. Journalists with Hong Kong or Macau passports are not subject to the restrictions.

On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the U.S. Secretary of State participated in an online meeting with foreign media, according to Voice of America. When asked by the media if he was considering easing these restrictions, Blinken said, “We’re taking steps to make sure that the public knows exactly who is paying their salaries and that their editorial commentary conveys the views of the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China.” “We do this to promote transparency, not to interfere with these media outlets and their ability to report and choose their subjects, no matter how critical they are of the U.S. government.”

Blinken added, “We’re not banning these (Chinese) state-run media, which continue to operate here, but we want to ensure transparency and ensure that people fully understand that what they’re reading is actually being produced at the behest of the Beijing government.” “The real concern is that the Chinese government has effective operational and editorial control over these entities, which are focused solely on advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and sometimes working to create disinformation.

We will work together to establish a democratic vision for global information and information space, work to increase resilience to threats, and expose malicious activity from anywhere,” added Blinken. As you all know, China has one of the least amount of free space for information in the world” and “Our purpose is to preserve the rules-based international order that we have, for decades, invested so much effort in building.”

Blinken said the U.S. strongly defends its values. He said, “Our intent, even if we could, is not to contain China, not to impede China, but instead, our intent is to preserve the rules-based international order that we’ve invested so much effort in building over decades. We believe this is not only good for us, but good for all countries in the world, including China. When that order is challenged by anyone, we will stand up for it, not because we oppose or try to stop the country that is challenging it, but because we are determined to preserve the order and defend it.”