The US Justice Department has demanded two Chinese state-backed media outlets register as foreign agents, sources told the Wall Street Journal, citing the same legislation that was used against President Trump’s now-convicted associate Paul Manafort.
The two organisations, Xinhua News Agency and China Global Television Network – the former CCTV – have been singled out due to their close links to Beijing and mandate to broadcast pro-government content.
After the registration, the media firms will lose certain congressional press credentials which give other journalistic organisations access to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. A precedent was set earlier this year when the rule was applied to two Russian news companies accused of similar behaviour.
Pressure on the Justice Department to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act was led by Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. Earlier this year, the senators raised concerns that foreign governments were raising “barriers to external political and cultural influence at home while simultaneously taking advantage of the openness of democratic systems abroad.”
“A sensible step for the United States government to take is appropriately enforcing existing laws, such as FARA, designed to protect against just such concerns,” the senators wrote to Jeff Sessions, the attorney-general.