Following intimidation and threats of arrest and asset seizure, Russia Today (RT) was forced to register as a foreign agent. According to a new report on U.S.-China relations, China’s Xinhua News Agency may be targeted next.
The report indicates that the news outlet has been responsible for gathering intelligence for the Chinese government, which lawmakers in the U.S. believe requires the reclassification of the news outlet as a “foreign agent.”
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), which “monitors” and “investigates” bilateral relations between the two countries and recommends legislation to lawmakers, has said Xinhua is part of a scheme by Chinese leadership to change global perception of the country and operates as an intelligence-gathering mission.
This annual report focused on Xinhua and its rapid growth across the globe, with now over 150 global affiliates. The outlet has also expanded rapidly within the U.S. now having offices in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
“Xinhua serves some of the functions of an intelligence agency by gathering information and producing classified reports for the Chinese leadership on both domestic and international events,” the report claimed.
The report recommends that lawmakers force Xinhua to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) because of its intelligence-gathering activities. This would require top-level employees to register with the Department of Justice and forfeit any and all required personal data and information.
In its decision to force RT to become FARA compliant, an outlet that services programs hosted by some of the U.S.’ own top journalists, the U.S. Congress called the outlet a “state-run propaganda machine.”
RT and Sputnik editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called the move an affront to the principles of freedom of speech, which is embedded in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“The war the U.S. establishment wages with our journalists is dedicated to all the starry-eyed idealists who still believe in freedom of speech. Those who invented it, have buried it,” said Simonyan.
In a recent FOX News interview, Alternet Senior Editor, Max Blumenthal criticized congress’ decision to force RT to register as a foreign agent.
“I go on RT fairly regularly and the reason I do so is because the three major cable networks are promoting bombing and sanctioning half the world, at least the noncompliant nations in it, and RT is questioning that,” Blumenthal said.
“They let me talk about, for example, the real sources of foreign influence in this town including the Israel Lobby and organizations like AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) which have been promoting a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, war on Lebanon, war on Iran, which is not required for some reason to register as a foreign agent, and I don’t know why that is.”
Featured image is from Flickr.