The Federal Communications Commission has rejected a permit that would have allowed Chinese-language broadcasts from a Mexican radio station in Baja California over concerns that the station would beam Chinese government propaganda into the United States.
The commission’s international bureau said in a statement Monday that it turned down the application for Mandarin Chinese programming to be produced in Irwindale, California, for later rebroadcast into the United States on XEWW-AM, a formerly Spanish-language station near Tijuana, Mexico.
The commission said it denied the application in part because of the failure to disclose Beijing’s role in the ownership.
“The application was dismissed because the parties failed to include in their application a key participant, Phoenix Radio, which produces the Mandarin programming in its studio,” the FCC said.
“Phoenix Radio is partially owned by two entities with Chinese government ownership.”
The 77,500-watt radio station, known as a “border blaster” based in Mexico but targeting an American audience, had been beaming Chinese-language broadcasts for the past two years under a temporary license.
Separately, the State Department designated for sanctions nine Chinese state media outlets disguised as new agencies. It was the latest move in an escalating war with Beijing over press rights and media access.
Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the State Department acted under a Cold War-era law that mandates reciprocal treatment of foreign states operating in the United States.
State media outlets covered by the sanctions include China Central Television, the China News Service, the People’s Daily and the Global Times, which are now regarded as foreign government missions.
In February, Xinhua News Agency, the China Global Television Network, China Radio International, the China Daily Distribution Corp. and Hai Tian Development USA were similarly identified as arms of the Chinese government.
China in recent months has expelled a number of Beijing-based correspondents for leading U.S. publications and tightened visa restrictions for foreign reporters who were critical of the ruling Communist Party.
With the FCC action announced Monday, the radio station was given 48 hours to cease all Chinese-language broadcasts that can reach U.S. listeners.
The application for the broadcast license was submitted by GLR Southern California, the station’s owner, and a New York financial group called H&H Group USA.
They denied in their 2018 application that they were a front for the Chinese government and said those opposing the application “based [their] arguments on wholly unsupported allegations of improper influence in a self-serving effort to protect [themselves] from competition to the Southern California Chinese-speaking American audience.”
A question of ownership
The FCC acted Monday under a 1992 U.S.-Mexico agreement that limits foreign broadcasts from Mexico capable of reaching U.S. audiences.
Until 2018, XEWW was a Spanish-language station located in Rosarito, Mexico, about 10 miles from the U.S. border. Station owners sought an FCC permit to produce Chinese-language programming at a studio in Los Angeles but failed to identify the study as part of Phoenix Radio.
The FCC said it will review the permit application again if the companies include Phoenix Radio as part of the application.
According to the FCC ruling in the matter, Phoenix Radio is owned by Phoenix Satellite Television (U.S.) Inc., formed in 2000 as part of Phoenix Media Investment Holdings Co. Ltd. Phoenix Media, ostensibly a private company, has been linked to China’s military. Its largest investor is the state-owned China Mobile telecommunications company.
Liu Changle, director of Phoenix Media, is a former propaganda official for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and is close to senior Chinese Communist Party officials, said Sarah Cook, a China expert at Freedom House.
Phoenix TV also was linked to the case of Chinese spy Chi Mak, who was convicted of illegally exporting defense technology to China in 2007. Mak’s brother, Tai Mak, was identified by federal investigators as a PLA intelligence officer working undercover as a broadcast engineer for Phoenix in Southern California. Tai Mak was also convicted as a conspirator in the spy case.
A reporter for Phoenix TV caused a stir in the White House in April by asking President Trump during a press briefing about U.S. government cooperation with China on the coronavirus.
The reporter, who was not identified by name, was in turn asked by the president, “Who are you working for, China? Do you work for China? Or are you with a newspaper? Who are you with?”
The reporter said she was working for Phoenix TV, and Mr. Trump asked, “Who owns that, China? Is it owned by China? Is it owned by the state?”
“It’s a private-owned company,” she said.
“OK. Good,” Mr. Trump said before ignoring the reporter’s question. “Look, I’ll let you know. I’ll give you a good answer to that in a few months.”
Two years ago, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, opposed allowing the Chinese to operate the radio station. Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, raised similar concerns in April.
“The FCC must protect American security and economic interests, and deny any attempt by the Chinese government to broadcast Communist Party propaganda and other programming into the United States,” Mr. Rubio said at the time.
The application for the permit filed with FCC did not identify Phoenix Satellite TV US as the location for programming production. The application instead listed only the address for the television studio, without saying it was the Phoenix studio.
The denial of the application is part of larger Trump administration efforts to limit Chinese Communist Party and Chinese government influence operations in the United States.
A Chinese-language broadcaster in Southern California, Chinese Sound of Oriental and West Heritage, opposed the application for XEWW-AM programming.
The rival broadcaster told the FCC in a filing that granting a permit to H&H might allow China’s government to “provide its own propaganda programming to air on the station.”
“If the programming of XEWW-AM is tainted by, or worse controlled by, the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese American community of Southern California could be indoctrinated with CCP propaganda, and the American political and economic community could be damaged,” the filing said.
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U.S. hitting back against Chinese military after ‘decades’ of ‘threatening’ actions
The United States is pushing back against stepped-up Chinese military activities near Taiwan and in the South China Sea as a means of deterring a conflict with Beijing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says. China in recent days has conducted large-scale military exercises and provocative jet flights near Taiwan in what China’s state media say…
The United States is pushing back against stepped-up Chinese military activities near Taiwan and in the South China Sea as a means of deterring a conflict with Beijing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.
China in recent days has conducted large-scale military exercises and provocative jet flights near Taiwan in what China’s state media say is a response to a visit to the island by a senior State Department official last week. China’s military fired four missiles into the South China Sea last week, and the People’s Liberation Army this week posted a video online showing a simulated Chinese bombing strike on the American territory of Guam.
Asked about the growing tensions in an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Pompeo blamed past policies that he said ignored threatening Chinese activities. He hinted that Washington was also ready to expand the offensive against Chinese internet companies operating in the U.S. and will seek to completely shut down a network of Chinese cultural centers in the U.S. called Confucius Institutes as soon as the end of this year.
“What we have done for decades is we have permitted the Chinese Communist Party to engage in threatening or disruptive behavior, whether that is predatory economic practices and the like, and they have continued to expand their capacity and their footprint,” he said. “The biggest risk with regard to the Chinese Communist Party is appeasement.”
President Trump, he added, has said, “Enough. We’re not going to let that happen anymore.’”
The secretary of state said in the interview that leaders in Beijing need to recognize the Trump administration’s seriousness and Mr. Trump’s commitment in pushing back against Chinese expansionism. “We watch these military activities, and we prepare,” Mr. Pompeo said. “President Trump’s been clear: We don’t want conflict with China. They say they don’t want conflict with us as well. We hope they’ll reduce what they’re doing to create this tension.”
The increase in saber-rattling and threatening rhetoric from China has worried some U.S. officials, who see the activities as possible signs that Beijing is preparing for some type of military action. The state-run Global Times, viewed as China’s most xenophobic state-controlled outlet, warned in an editorial this week that the series of military exercises near Taiwan could be a prelude to an attack on the island.
The United States is obligated to defend Taiwan from mainland attack under terms of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which also calls for selling defensive weapons to Taiwan.
The Trump administration recently formalized the long-delayed sale of 66 new F-16 jets to Taiwan in a deal worth $8 billion. Additional weapons sales to Taiwan reportedly will include an advanced attack missile called the Stand-Off Land-Attack Missile-Expanded Response, or SLAM-ER, an air-launched cruise missile capable of hitting targets in China.
Standing for freedom
Mr. Pompeo said the United States is determined to counter Chinese activities through economic, diplomatic and military responses.
“We’ve engaged our freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and elsewhere in ways that no administration has done before,” he said.
“We’re going to stand up for freedom, for the American right to make sure we transit goods wherever we need to in international waterways. Those are the things that President Trump has mandated, and I hope the Chinese Communist Party will see them for what they are: a clear enunciation of America’s underlying rights and our willingness to help build out a coalition to protect the free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Mr. Pompeo said the administration’s arms sales to Taiwan, which China considers part of its country and has vowed to reclaim, are permitted under the Taiwan Relations Act.
“We’re doing these things in a way that makes clear that the obligations that both countries, China and the United States, undertook, the commitments we made to each other, the promises that we made to each other, will be lived up to,” he said.
Mr. Pompeo said one of the challenges in deterring China is that Beijing “has never been held to account for broken promises.”
“Now we’re seeing those broken promises continue,” he said. “They promised President Obama they wouldn’t arm the South China Sea. They did so. They promised Hong Kong they would be allowed to have a different system from mainland for 50 years and they’ve now broken that promise. The list goes on.”
U.S. policy toward China is aimed at pressing the Chinese Communist Party to abide by its promises and commitments. “That goes for Taiwan as well,” he said.
Mr. Pompeo also weighed in on the controversy over the recent presidential order banning two popular Chinese apps, TikTok and WeChat, over concerns that Chinese intelligence uses the software to compile personal data on Americans and others. The problem is that China can obtain Americans’ data from the internet when it travels through networks owned by Chinese companies.
All businesses in China are required to turn over all information to “the Chinese national security apparatus,” Mr. Pompeo said.
In addition to WeChat, the Chinese messaging and financial transaction service, the U.S. government is looking at a number of Chinese applications to restrict.
“Our mission set is not to deny Chinese commercial activities, but rather to protect America’s national security and Americans’ private information,” Mr. Pompeo said.
A federal judge in California issued an order temporarily preventing the administration from banning WeChat. TikTok, a video-sharing site that is popular with younger internet users, is negotiating a possible partial sale to U.S. companies under pressure from the administration.
On WeChat, Mr. Pompeo said: “We think that they got the law wrong, and we’re hopeful that this big international security matter will not be decided in court. This is something the president has the full authority to do, and we hope that we will ultimately prevail there.”
Americans need to know that communicating and interacting online will not result in their information being stolen by Chinese intelligence services, he added.
Targeting Confucius Institutes
On China’s use of a network of Confucius Institutes on U.S. campuses for covert influence operations, Mr. Pompeo said the administration is working to shut down the institutes, possibly as soon as the end of the year.
“We began by righting what the previous administration had done wrong by calling out these institutions and making it known to the schools and institutions with which they were affiliated the risks that they present,” he said.
As a result of the effort, a number of the more than 100 Confucius Institutes were shuttered.
“We are looking at other tools,” Mr. Pompeo said. “The president is reviewing other options to get the certainty around not being influenced by these Confucius Institutes.”
The institutes present a false “happy front,” Mr. Pompeo said, by claiming to just teach Mandarin or Chinese culture. However, the institutes have been used for influence operations and have been connected by the Justice Department in at least one case to illegal Chinese technology talent recruitment programs, he said.
“This administration is not going to tolerate that,” Mr. Pompeo said.
The administration’s recent decision to block visas for about 1,000 students linked to a Chinese military-civilian “fusion program” and the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston were examples, he said.
Mr. Pompeo also warned that Chinese influence in the upcoming presidential election is “a real challenge.”
Attorney General William Barr and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe have warned that China, along with Russia and Iran, are trying to influence the U.S. vote.
“The Chinese Communist Party will operate differently than other countries in trying to affect the outcome of our election,” Mr. Pompeo said, “but they are no less serious in their intention to have an impact, to exert their influence, to have an outcome that’s consistent with China’s goals and not those of the voters here in the United States.”
Vice President Mike Pence said in 2018 that China conducted an unprecedented effort to interfere in that year’s election and was targeting the president this year. “China wants a different American president,” he said.
Mr. Pompeo said he is confident that the U.S. government will protect the election and deliver a free, fair, secure election in November.
“I’m confident that we will deliver that, but the Chinese intent is certainly to weigh in on our election.”
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FBI opens new Chinese investigation every 10 hours
The FBI is opening a new counterintelligence probe of Chinese-linked threats “every 10 hours,” bureau Director Christopher Wray told Congress on Thursday, underscoring the threat Beijing poses to U.S. interests. Overall the FBI has more than 2,000 counterintelligence investigations on China, which is “by far the biggest chunk” of the bureau’s counterintelligence work, Mr. Wray…
The FBI is opening a new counterintelligence probe of Chinese-linked threats “every 10 hours,” bureau Director Christopher Wray told Congress on Thursday, underscoring the threat Beijing poses to U.S. interests.
Overall the FBI has more than 2,000 counterintelligence investigations on China, which is “by far the biggest chunk” of the bureau’s counterintelligence work, Mr. Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee.
“The scope and scale off this threat is really breathtaking, he told the House Homeland Security Committee.
He was testifying as part of an annual hearing on threats to the U.S.
He said Russia is “very active” in trying to influence the election through social media and other discord-sowing means, but the intelligence community has not seen attempts to hack the elections infrastructure like it did in 2016.
Mr. Wray said Russia’s efforts are “primarily to denigrate Vice President [Joseph R.] Biden and what the Russians see as an anti-Russia establishment” in Washington.
Mr. Wray was joined at the hearing by National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller. There was an empty seat left for acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who declined to appear, citing a tradition that officials who have a pending nomination before the Senate don’t testify outside of the confirmation process.
Committee Chair Bennie G. Thompson said Mr. Wolf had agreed to appear, but withdrew that commitment after he was officially nominated earlier this month. The Mississippi Democrat issued a subpoena last week to try to force Mr. Wolf to testify, but he didn’t show.
“That he would refuse to come before the committee after committing to do so should appall every member of this committee,” Mr. Thompson said.
Homeland Security had offered to have the No. 2 official at the department, Ken Cuccinelli, appear instead. Mr. Thompson did not accept that offer.
Mr. Cuccinelli then publicly released his testimony he would have delivered.
One reason Democrats wanted Mr. Wolf to appear was to pursue questions about the danger posed by white supremacists.
Republicans, meanwhile, wanted to hear about the dangers from left-wing organizations they characterized as “Antifa.”
Without Mr. Wolf in attendance, those questions went to Mr. Wray, who said the FBI sees violence from a wide range of ideologies.
But he pushed back against suggestions from both sides that organizations are pulling the strings.
“Much of the violence we’re seeing it does not appear to be organized or attributed to any one particular group or movement,” he said.
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Chinese border city lockdown after coronavirus found: Live news |NationalTribune.com
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur. The southwestern Chinese city of Riuli has been locked down, with all 200,000 residents to be tested for COVID-19 after two Myanmar nationals were diagnosed with the virus. More than 29 million people around the world have been diagnosed…
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
The southwestern Chinese city of Riuli has been locked down, with all 200,000 residents to be tested for COVID-19 after two Myanmar nationals were diagnosed with the virus.
More than 29 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 926,307 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 20 million have recovered.
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, September 15
02:15 GMT – US official accused scientists of ‘sedition’: New York Times
The top communications official at the US department in charge of combating the coronavirus told his followers in a Facebook Live session that government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic, according to the New York Times.
Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claimed, without evidence, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was harbouring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Donald Trump, the newspaper said.
Caputo is a former adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Suggesting scientists are plotting ‘sedition’ is a little like claiming @FortniteGame is about to be taken over by otters
— Bill Hanage (@BillHanage) September 15, 2020
01:15 GMT – Test rate positivity down in California
Only 3.5 percent of COVID-19 tests came back positive in California over the last seven days, the lowest rate since the state began reporting the data in March, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper says its analysis of the data also shows new confirmed cases at the lowest since mid-June and hospitalisations at the lowest since the start of April.
00:15 GMT – Judge in US rules Pennsylvania restrictions ‘unconstitutional’
A federal judge in the United States state of Pennsylvania has ruled that lockdown measures imposed in March to curb the spread of COVID-19 are “unconstitutional”.
The measures, including the closure of businesses and a limit on the size of gatherings, were challenged in court by several Republican lawmakers and small business owners, who argued the restrictions put their enterprises at risk.
Judge William Stickman ruled in their favour, and said that even if the state’s governor acted with “good intention of addressing a public health emergency”, he did not have the right to infringe on citizens’ fundamental freedoms.
“There is no question that this country has faced, and will face, emergencies of every sort,” the judge wrote. “But the solution to a national crisis can never be permitted to supersede the commitment to individual liberty that stands as the foundation of the American experiment.”
00:00 GMT – Border city in China’s southwest to start mass testing
The Chinese city of Ruili, which lies on the border with Myanmar, will begin nucleic acid testing of all residents after two people were discovered to have COVID-19 on Sunday.
The two patients are both from Myanmar and entered China illegally, according to state broadcaster CGTN. They have been isolated in hospital along with five others. Some 190 close contacts of the two have also been put in isolation.
A citywide lockdown has been imposed in Ruili and all residents told to stay at home.
Read all the updates from yesterday (September 14) here.
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