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China demands information from four US media companies, cites similar demands from Washington

China demands information from four US media companies, cites similar demands from Washington

China has demanded four U.S. media outlets that operate in the country provide information on their staff and businesses, a move that comes in response to similar demands on Chinese state-controlled news outlets that operate in the U.S.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced Wednesday that The Associated Press, United Press International (UPI), CBS and NPR must file documents detailing their staff, financial operations and real estate ownership, among other matters, within seven days. 

Zhao said the move is in direct response to the U.S.’s decision in June to designate four Chinese media outlets as “foreign missions” amid accusations they promoted propaganda. The designation could require the Chinese outlets to reduce their staff in the U.S. and mandates similar disclosures. 

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“It should be pointed out that the above-mentioned measures by China are completely necessary countermeasures and are completely legitimate defenses compelled by unreasonable suppression of the U.S. side on Chinese media agencies in the United States,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.

“China urges the U.S. to immediately change its course and correct its mistakes and stop the political suppression and unreasonable restrictions of the Chinese media,” he added.

The Chinese media outlets that were targeted in June include China Central Television, China News Service, the People’s Daily and the Global Times. Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation and Hai Tian Development USA were all slapped with similar designations in February

The designations mandate that the outlets inform the State Department of their current personnel in the U.S., including some personal information about their staffers, and their property holdings.

“Over the past decade and particularly under General Secretary Xi Jinping’s tenure, the [Chinese Communist Party] has reorganized China’s state propaganda outlets disguised as news agencies and asserted even more direct control over them,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement last month. 

Beijing responded at the time by revoking accreditation for American correspondents with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Wednesday’s announcement from Beijing comes at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and China, with the Trump administration accusing Beijing of failing to do enough to blunt the spread of the coronavirus and hammering a new security law that critics fear will tamp down on freedoms in Hong Kong.