US designates 5 Chinese media outlets as foreign missions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Tuesday designated five state-run Chinese news outlets that operate in the United States as “foreign missions,” requiring them to register their properties and employees in the U.S.

The move comes amid growing U.S. concerns about efforts by overseas media organizations to influence U.S. public opinion and a determination by Washington that the outlets are directly controlled by the Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party, according to two State Department officials.

The designations require each affected outlet to register the locations of any properties they own or rent in the United States, get permission to lease or purchase additional properties, and disclose the names of their employees in the U.S., including American citizens, according to the officials.

The designations do not, however, require the outlets’ employees to notify U.S. authorities of their movements in the country and are not intended to impede them from conducting journalistic activities, the officials said.

The five outlets affected are China’s official Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, the China Daily Distribution Corporation, which distributes the newspaper of the same name, and Hai Tian Development USA, which distributes the People’s Daily newspaper, the officials said.

The official said the five organizations were notified of the designations earlier Tuesday and that they take effect immediately. The designations are expected to be published in the Federal Register later this week, and the officials spoke on condition of anonymity pending that public announcement.

Xinhua and China Global Television were directed two years ago by the Justice Department to register as foreign agents in the United States, although it is not clear if either ever did. Several Russian news outlets, including the Russia Today television network, face similar directions from Justice.

Tuesday’s “foreign mission” designations come under State Department authority and subject the outlets to requirements similar to diplomatic and other official foreign government entities that operate in the United States. The designations do not confer any diplomatic status on the organizations’ property or employees, the officials said.

The officials said there is precedent for designating state-run news agencies as “foreign missions,” including during the Cold War, when most, if not all, Soviet outlets were so identified. More recently, the officials said the Vietnam News Agency was designated a foreign mission in the United States and its offices and employees required to register.

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