Congress demands answers on AP’s relationship with Chinese state media

China’s state-run media companies are rapidly expanding their integration with Western news outlets, as part of Beijing’s worldwide foreign influence operations campaign. In Washington, lawmakers in both parties are calling out such arrangements and demanding U.S. media companies make sure they don’t become tools of Chinese government propaganda.

As with all authoritarian regimes, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is organized around manipulation and control of information and ideas. Under President Xi Jinping, the party has rapidly and boldly expanded its efforts to influence discussion about China beyond its borders, in part through the global expansion of state-run media outlets. The goal is to suppress any criticism of the Chinese government and shape the international discussion of China in ways favorable to the party’s interests.

Beijing is committed to limiting free expression, and any partnership between China’s state media enterprises and those of democracies must take this into account, said Chris Walker, senior vice president at the National Endowment of Democracy.

“Such partnerships can invite critical risks to the integrity of independent media institutions, which may not fully appreciate their own vulnerabilities,” he said. “As media outlets in Australia and elsewhere have found, engagement with Chinese state media can induce self-censorship on certain issues or the unwitting carrying of CCP propaganda lines.”

That brings us to the late November announcement by Xinhua, China’s largest state-run news agency, that it is expanding cooperation with the U.S. news service Associated Press. AP’s chief executive, Gary Pruitt, traveled to Beijing to meet with Xinhua President Cai Mingzhao, who said that “the two news agencies have broad cooperation in areas including new media, application of artificial intelligence (AI) and economic information,” Xinhua reported.

Xinhua’s description of this kind of cooperation raised alarms in Congress, where members of both parties are newly attuned to Chinese foreign-influence operations inside the United States.

“In sharp contrast to the AP’s independent journalism, Xinhua’s core mission is to shape public opinion in ways sympathetic to the CCP’s legitimacy and behavior,” 14 U.S. lawmakers wrote to Pruitt on Dec. 19, in a letter I obtained.

The letter was led by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and signed by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The lawmakers point out that the Justice Department this year required Xinhua to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Xinhua functions as an arm of Beijing’s propaganda machine and also “serves some of the functions of an intelligence agency,” according to the 2017 annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The commission warns that Xinhua is rapidly expanding worldwide in an effort to undermine and discredit Western media outlets and control public discussion of China.

Congress is asking the AP to release the text of its memorandum of understanding with Xinhua, reveal what future cooperation they are planning and assure lawmakers Xinhua won’t influence AP’s reporting or have access to any sensitive information in AP’s possession.

Have you read the Economist lately? It’s nothing but shill stories for China. It’s pretty amazing that they are so blatant about it.

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They love themselves some commie, especially when Trump is butt-heading with Xi. Same treatment wit hall thing China, from Google’s Project Dragonfly helping China censoring the internet, to Chinese hackers breaching and stealing data from multiple US companies, most prominently Marriott, taht have major consequent on the US economy, IP, and security / privacy of the private citizens.

But (((Russian))) hackers and their Facebook propaganda attracting as much as 369 “likes” that altered the 2016 election tho, gotta go full throttle on that.