Senior State Department Officials On the Office of Foreign Mission’s Designation of Chinese Media Entities as Foreign Missions

Channel 1 Los Angeles

2/19/2020

Washington, D.C.

Press Correspondents’ Room

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  So I’ll talk a little bit about why we’re doing what we’re doing, and then [Senior State Department Official] can talk about what that actually means.

So we are designating five Chinese state-run media organizations as foreign missions.  That’s the Xinhua News Agency; China Global Television Network which falls under China Central Television, CCTV; China Radio International; China Daily Distribution Corporation; and Hai Tian Development USA, which is the distributor for the People’s Daily here in the United States.

Again, I’ll defer to [Senior State Department Official Two] on what this actually means in terms of what they’ll be required to do, but we are – we’re making this designation based on the very indisputable fact that all five of these are subject to the control of the Chinese Government.  Obviously, the Chinese Communist Party has always had a pretty tight rein on media in general and state-run media in particular, but that has only further tightened since Xi Jinping took over.  Since he became general secretary, China’s Communist Party has reorganized China’s state news agencies and asserted even more direct control over them, both in terms of content, editorial, et cetera, et cetera.

Xi Jinping’s got a number of quotes on this score that are – there’s many of them.  One of them is that, “Managing China’s media messaging is crucial for the future and fate of the Chinese Communist Party and the state.”  There are many others of a similar ilk that demonstrate exactly how much of a function of the state Xi Jinping considers the media to be.

In addition to the very clear state control of these media organizations, the PRC Government has also expanded its overseas media operations in recent years, including here in the United States.  I can talk a little bit briefly about each one of these organizations and how we came to make the determination that it was foreign mission.

For Xinhua, this is an institution directly reporting to China’s State Council, which is the chief administrative authority of the PRC Government.  China Global Television Network is part of the China Media Group, which is a media company run by the PRC Government.  The same goes for China Radio International; that’s also part of the China Media Group.  China Daily Distribution Corporation acts on behalf of the China Daily, which is an English-language daily newspaper owned by the Publicity Department of the CCP.  And then fifth, Hai Tian Development USA acts on behalf of the People’s Daily, which is the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

And then just to reiterate, each one of these entities meets the definition of foreign mission under our Foreign Mission Act, which is to say they are either substantially owned or effectively controlled by a foreign government.  And that’s why we have now determined that we will be treating them as foreign missions.

One thing I want to clarify – I’m sure you guys all know this very well, but it’s worth pointing out that some people conflate this with FARA, the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  That’s a separate authority, a Department of Justice authority.  It’s a separate regulatory or statutory regime administered by DOJ that requires agents of foreign principals, including foreign governments, that are engaged in certain activities to disclose their relationship with and conduct on behalf of the foreign principals.  This is separate.  That’s a DOJ authority.  They are the ones that implement the Foreign Agent – the FARA.  This is a totally separate authority.  This is under the Foreign Missions Act.  And again, a foreign mission is, as defined by that law, as an entity that is substantially owned or effectively controlled by a foreign government.

I think I’ll leave it at that and then ask [Senior State Department Official Two] to talk a little bit about what this designation will actually mean for those five entities.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO:  Thank you.  Again, as – we have designated them as foreign missions.  That does not mean that they are embassies or consulates or have traditional diplomatic privileges or immunities.  What we are doing is imposing two requirements on these entities.

The first is that they will – are required to notify the Office of Foreign Missions within the State Department of their current personnel in the United States, basic information about those individuals, and then as – if there’s any changes to those employment situations.  So if anyone departs or new people come on, they would notify us, just like the standard requirement for an embassy or consulate.

The second is that they would need to notify us of their current real property holdings, whether they are owned or leased; and in connection with that, prior to acquiring, whether by purchase or lease any new real property, they would need to obtain prior approval from my office.  Those are the only two requirements that are in place, and all of that was notified to each of these entities earlier today.

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