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Chinese gov’t newspaper paid $2 million to ‘advertise’ with US media companies

President of China Xi Jinping. (Kremlin/Released)
November 24, 2020

A Chinese government-controlled newspaper that the U.S. government calls a “propaganda outlet” paid nearly $2 million to “advertise” with U.S. media companies, according to a newly revealed document, though it’s not clear what that “advertising” entailed.

China’s government-run China Daily organization filed a Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) disclosure with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) listing payments made to The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, and more.

According to the document, China Daily paid $85,296 to The Wall Street Journal, $340,000 to Los Angeles Times, and $100,000 to Foreign Policy for “advertisement expenses” in the past six months alone.

China Daily also paid $223,710 to the UK-based Financial Times, $132,046 to Canadian-based The Globe and Mail, and another $38,286 to “various vendors” also for “advertising expenses.”

China Daily is owned by the Chinese government’s State Council Information Office (SCIO). U.S. thinktank The Wilson Center described the SCIO as the department that “oversees the country’s external propaganda, guiding the foreign-propaganda activities of the multiple government offices whose portfolios touch on foreign matters.”

Assistant Secretary Stilwell called China Daily a “foreign propaganda outlet” on June 22, and on the same day, the State Department designated China Daily as a “foreign mission” that is “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by China.

China Daily’s FARA filing also lists more than $1.1 million paid to 13 U.S. media outlets and printing companies for costs deemed “newspaper printing” in different regions between May 1 and October 31.

The filing specifies China Daily’s activities as “distribution of China Daily newspaper” and “advertising campaigns” in the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal has a page on its website called “China Watch” dedicated to content paid for by China Daily.

In 2018, President Donald Trump had highlighted China Daily’s “advertisements” which were comprised of advertisements designed to look like pro-China news stories.

China’s ‘China Daily’ 4-page insert into Iowa’s Des Moines Register (White House)

One of the faux-stories published in the Des Moines Register was headlined “Duel Undermines Benefits of Trade” in which it praised U.S.-China trade, intending to stir frustration in Iowa farmers, which were impacted by tariffs on corn and soy crop exports due to the U.S.-China trade conflict.