China’s state-run media companies are rapidly expanding their integration with Western news outlets, as part of Beijing’s worldwide foreign influence operations campaign. In Washington, lawmakers in both parties are calling out such arrangements and demanding U.S. media companies make sure they don’t become tools of Chinese government propaganda.
As with all authoritarian regimes, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is organized around manipulation and control of information and ideas. Under President Xi Jinping, the party has rapidly and boldly expanded its efforts to influence discussion about China beyond its borders, in part through the global expansion of state-run media outlets. The goal is to suppress any criticism of the Chinese government and shape the international discussion of China in ways favorable to the party’s interests.
That brings us to the late November announcement by Xinhua, China’s largest state-run news agency, that it is expanding cooperation with the U.S. news service Associated Press. AP’s chief executive, Gary Pruitt, traveled to Beijing to meet with Xinhua President Cai Mingzhao, who said that “the two news agencies have broad cooperation in areas including new media, application of artificial intelligence (AI) and economic information,” Xinhua reported.
Xinhua’s description of this kind of cooperation raised alarms in Congress, where members of both parties are newly attuned to Chinese foreign-influence operations inside the United States.