Time magazine blasted for falling into big foreign propaganda tool touting surveillance of Uighur drones

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news site, reported on Jan. 1 that Time magazine charged the Chinese government $700,000 (about 19.54 million Taiwan dollars) to publish an article in China’s state-owned media to whitewash a drone manufacturer accused of helping the Chinese government spy on Uighurs and to tout China’s latest 5-year economic plan.

The Washington Free Beacon has recently continued to report on the Chinese government’s bribing of U.S. media outlets to engage in “grand foreign propaganda. The lucrative advertising deal began late last year when Time magazine published 75 articles from China Daily on its website. Although Time’s website states that China Daily paid to publish these articles, it does not expose China Daily as a propaganda machine for the Chinese government.

Because China Daily is an official media outlet, the U.S. Department of Justice requires the newspaper to disclose its media activities under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Over the past six months, China Daily has spent millions of dollars to place advertisements and propaganda in U.S. newspapers and magazines, including Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Foreign Policy magazine.

While much of the content in China Daily is reportedly apolitical, some of the articles unabashedly portray the Chinese government and corporations in a positive light. The aforementioned article on drones comes just a week after the Trump administration blacklisted DJI, China’s largest drone manufacturer, over concerns that Chinese intelligence agencies may be using drones to gather information on U.S. citizens.

DJI drones are allegedly being used by the Chinese government to spy on Uighur Muslims, millions of whom are being held in internment camps in Xinjiang. But the China Daily article highlights that DJI has sold 40,000 drones for agricultural work in the past year, and that the company is “helping farmers improve efficiency and increase the use of smart farming equipment.

Time magazine first published an article in China Daily, a story promoting China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (the 14th Five-Year Plan). The article accused the U.S. of escalating tensions between the U.S. and China by threatening to ban WeChat and TikTok. U.S. officials believe the two mobile apps are linked to Chinese intelligence agencies.

Time magazine reportedly signed a cooperation agreement with China Daily at a time when other prominent news organizations had cut ties with the propaganda outlet. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post all ended their relationships with China Daily last year. The New York Times said the termination of the partnership was based on concerns about working with China’s state-owned media.