The United States has added four more Chinese media outlets as the country's propaganda arm, operating in America as the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) mouthpiece. The Global Times, China Central Television (CCTN), China News Service and the People's Daily were designated as 'foreign diplomatic missions' by the U.S. Department of State on Monday (June 22).

Those four were the latest additions after the U.S. labelled Xinhua, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, and China Daily as "foreign missions" in February 2020.

CCP's Propaganda Wing

While all these media outlets can still operate on the U.S. soil, these companies will now need the American government's approval to buy, lease and sell office space. They will also need to register any changes in office personnel besides new recruits and staff departures with the State Department under the Foreign Missions Act.

US China flag
US China flags Reuters

"These entities are not independent news organizations. They are effectively controlled by the Chinese Communist Party... also known as propaganda outlets," said David Stilwell, assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific affairs of the State Department.

He added that it would increase transparency on the control of information amongst the "legitimate journalists and news organizations in China".

In March this year, Trump administration also put restrictions on the number of journalists working for the five designated media houses on the U.S. soil. From 160, those media outlets had to cut their number of reporters to 100. Washington said it was due to Beijing's "long-standing intimidation and harassment of journalists."

China's Retaliation

China, in retaliation, expelled American correspondents with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post in March. That time, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said media helped in communication between different countries and the decision was wrong.

"The U.S. touts its press freedom. However, it is wantonly restricting and thwarting Chinese media outlets' normal operation there. This is totally unjustified and unacceptable," Geng said. "We urge the U.S. to discard its ideological prejudice and Cold War zero-sum game mentality and stop ill-advised measures that undermine bilateral trust and cooperation," he added.

On June 23, another Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lijian Zhao, echoed his colleague's words on the new designation of its media outlets, further heating up the issue that may lead to further retaliatory measures by Beijing as well.

Strained Relations

This comes amid the backdrop of a trade war between the two countries that began early this year. Both countries have taken countermeasures in dealing with each other's threats and hiked tariffs significantly on various imports and exports.

In addition, the U.S. President Donald Trump has accused China multiple times that the Coronavirus came from a Wuhan lab and later turned into a pandemic. Washington and its allies have also demanded an independent probe into the origin of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Apart from that, Trump has raised questions about Hong Kong's future as the country has adopted the national security law that effectively puts the autonomous country under Beijing's thumb.

"These four entities are not media but propaganda outlets," Stilwell said adding that CCP has not only operational control over those media organizations but also full editorial control.