The Trump administration on Monday added four Chinese media outlets to a list of organisations that should be considered “foreign missions” because of their ties to the government and the Communist Party in a move that is likely to further aggravate relations between the two countries.
State Department officials said the four organisations, including CCTV, would be required to submit a list of all their employees in the US as well as any real estate holdings, just as they would if they were foreign embassies or consulates.
None are being ordered to leave the US, and no limits on their activities were announced. But five other Chinese organisations were directed to cap the number of people who could work in the US in March – a month after they were designated as foreign missions.
State Department officials said the organisations are essentially mouthpieces for the Communist Party and Chinese government, not legitimate news outlets.
Students for a Free Tibet protest below a new electronic billboard leased by Xinhua, the news agency operated by the Chinese government, in New York’s Times Square in 2011 [File: Stan Honda/AFP]
“The Communist Party does not just exercise operational control over these propaganda entities but has full editorial control over their content,” said Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell. “This foreign mission designation is an obvious step in increasing transparency of these and other PRC government propaganda activities in the United States.”
The other three added to the list of foreign missions are the China News Service, the People’s Daily newspaper and the Global Times.
Its editor-in-chief Hu Xijin said the US decision aas “absurd” describing the Global Times, as “market-oriented media”. The tabloid is owned by the People’s Daily, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party.
This is a very absurd decision. China-US relation is so tense that market-oriented media like the Global Times has been affected. It is regrettable. The US is losing self-confidence and inclusiveness. The country is chaotic. pic.twitter.com/NrMNI71rc8
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) June 23, 2020
It is not yet clear how many journalists work in the US for the organisations that were designated on Monday.
The US took similar actions against Soviet outlets during the Cold War. That precedent reflects the bitter state of relations between the US and China, which are at odds over the origin and response to the coronavirus, trade, human rights and other issues.
US officials say the designated media outlets should be considered foreign missions under American law because they are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by the government of the People’s Republic of China and should not be treated like traditional news organisations.
As one of the last 10 counties in NW China’s #Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to have not been lifted out of #poverty, Shache County is accelerating its steps to shake off poverty by planting marigold. pic.twitter.com/7Vdi5K02rr
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) June 22, 2020
“These aren’t journalists. These are members of the propaganda apparatus in the PRC,” Stilwell said in a conference call with reporters.
Asked about potential Chinese retaliation, Stilwell noted that American journalists working in China already faced tight restrictions on their activities.
China had no immediate reaction to the announcement, but the foreign ministry accused the administration of harbouring a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice” when it applied the same designation to five other media organisations earlier this year.
At that time, the administration applied the label to the Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network (CGTN), 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.
Then the US administration capped the number of journalists from the five allowed to work in the US at 100, down from about 160. At the time, the US cited China’s increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment and intimidation of American and other foreign journalists in China.
China announced in response that it would revoke the media credentials of all American journalists at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
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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