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Lawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent

Lawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent
© Greg Nash

A GOP lawmaker is requesting the Chinese state media outlet Xinhua to register as a foreign agent.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), in a letter sent Wednesday to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe Hill's Campaign Report: Two weeks to the election l Biden leads in new polls as debate looms l Trump pressures DOJ on Hunter Biden Trump remarks put pressure on Barr Meadows says Trump did not order declassification of Russia documents MORE, called it “extremely troubling” that Xinhua has not registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), according to the letter obtained by Axios.

The act requires institutions that get foreign government funding or direction to send disclosures to the Department of Justice to make the information publicly available in a database. 

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The Indiana Republican cited “deep, longstanding ties” between Xinhua and the Chinese Communist Party as reason for concern, adding there is no documentation that the media outlet has registered. 

Banks quoted the 2017 annual report from the U.S.-China Security and Economic Review Commission saying, "Xinhua serves some functions of an intelligence agency by gathering information and producing classified reports for the Chinese government."

The Indiana representative’s letter follows a letter sent to former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHarris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House The Memo: Team Trump looks to Pence to steady ship in VP debate MORE by Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySchumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Durbin signals he isn't interested in chairing Judiciary Committee Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-Vt.) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump remarks put pressure on Barr Owners of meatpacker JBS to pay 0M fine over foreign bribery charges Questions raised about conflicts of interest around Biden son-in-law MORE (R-Fla.) in 2018 that cited concerns about Chinese-state funded media operating in the U.S., including Xinhua. 

The representative is requesting that the Department of Justice supply him with communications with Xinhua about its status as a foreign agent and any enforcement mechanisms to ensure the company complies with the legislation.

Concerns about foreign interference in U.S. politics has ramped up after Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.