A Chinese propaganda outlet paid millions of dollars to The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal to run advertisements that look to some like news reports.
China Daily paid more than $4.6 million to the Post and nearly $6 million to the Journal since November 2016, new documents filed with the U.S. Department of Justice show. China Daily, an English-language newspaper, is overseen by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Publicity Department, the governmental agency in charge of disseminating propaganda.
Over the past few years, it has spent millions running supplements—called “China Watch”—containing propaganda disguised as news, in major U.S. newspapers including the Journal, The New York Times, and the Post.
Scholars researching Chinese influence activities in the United States said in a 2018 report (pdf) that “it’s hard to tell that China Watch’s material is an ad.”
While China Daily has in the past submitted financial information under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the new filing (pdf) is the first to include a breakdown of how much the propaganda outlet is paying U.S. media outlets.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, Washington Post Vice President of Communications Kristine Coratti Kelly said that the China Watch supplement “was clearly labeled advertising.”
“It is no longer running in The Post—the last advertising insert ran last year,” she added.
The Journal didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the FARA filing, China Daily also paid to insert propaganda into The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Des Moines Register, and CQ Roll Call.
China Daily spent just over $11 million in total on advertising in newspapers in the United States.
The newspaper registered as a foreign agent under FARA in 1983. That law requires registered foreign agents to provide the DOJ with copies of all propaganda “circulated among two or more persons.” It also requires registrants to submit to the department, twice a year, an itemized report of spending inside the United States.
China Daily is part of the Chinese regime’s global propaganda efforts, a campaign that the CCP has committed $6.6 billion to since 2009, according to a letter sent by dozens of U.S. lawmakers to the Department of Justice earlier this year. The regime has, according to FARA filings, spent $35 million on China Daily alone since 2017, not including the new filing.
The articles that run in U.S. publications “serve as a cover for China’s atrocities, including its crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region and its support for the crackdown in Hong Kong,” the lawmakers wrote.
Earlier this year, the State Department designated China Daily, along with four other Chinese state-run media operating in the United States, as foreign missions over their role as propaganda organs of the CCP. It also slashed the number of Chinese staff allowed to work at the outlets’ U.S. offices.