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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDemocratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging Maduro pushes back on DOJ charges, calls Trump 'racist cowboy' DOJ charges Venezuela's Maduro with drug trafficking 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 SessionsAlabama postpones March 31 GOP Senate runoff Biden has broken all the 'rules' of presidential primaries The Hill's Campaign Report: Defiant Sanders vows to stay in race MORE by Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyLawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill Democrats seek to increase supplemental funding bill to 0 billion Five sticking points to a T coronavirus deal MORE (D-Vt.) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLessons from the front line — Florida's fight with sea level rise SNAP, airlines among final hurdles to coronavirus stimulus deal Senior State Department official headed to Peru to bring home stranded Americans, Rubio says 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.