The United States government has labeled six more Chinese media companies operating in the US as foreign missions in the latest round of tit-for-tat between Beijing and Washington over restrictions on journalists.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision at a press briefing on Wednesday, saying that the six media companies were “substantially or effectively controlled by a foreign government.”
“We’re not placing any restrictions on what these outlets can publish in the United States,” Pompeo said. “We simply want to ensure that American people, consumers of information, can differentiate between news written by a free press and propaganda distributed by the Chinese Communist Party itself. They’re not the same thing.”
The US operations of Yicai Global, Jiefang Daily, Xinmin Evening News, Social Sciences in China Press, Beijing Review and Economic Daily will all be affected by the decision, according to a release from State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
Once a media company is labeled as a foreign entity in the United States, it is required to submit to the same rules and regulations which cover diplomatic missions, which are stricter than those normally reserved for journalists. For example, any named companies will now need US government approval to buy or lease office space and will have to register personnel changes, including new hires and staff departures, with the State Department.
Both the United States and China have been imposing increasingly heavy restrictions on each others’ media companies over the past year. Nine Chinese media companies have already been designated as foreign entities in 2020 by the United States — five in February and four in June.
After the Trump administration announced in March it would cap the number of Chinese citizens employed by state-run media who could report in the United States, Beijing retaliated by expelling journalists from three major US media outlets: the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
In response to Pompeo’s announcement on Wednesday, a top Chinese state media editor took to Twitter to claim that the United States had “gone too far.”
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times, said on his official Twitter that the decision would “further poison [the] working environment of media outlets in each other’s country.”
“As long as Chinese media outlets suffer actual harm, Beijing will definitely retaliate,” Hu said. He added that US media operations in Hong Kong, which has traditionally operated as an international media hub, could be included on a “retaliation list.”
Hu’s posts on Twitter — a social media platform which is banned in mainland China — are frequently inflammatory, and many of his predictions have failed to come to pass.