China Daily, a propaganda outlet of the Chinese government, has reportedly paid $19 million to American newspapers in advertisement and printing charges in the past 4 years. The story came to light, amidst growing concerns about US dailies giving intellectual cover fire to Beijing.
As per the documents filed by China Daily with the Justice Department, the Communist party mouthpiece had paid over $6 million to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), $4.6 million to the Washington Post, $2,40,000 to Foreign Policy, $50,000 to the New York Times, $34,600 to The Des Moines Register and $76,000 to CQ-Roll Call.
Besides, spending $11 million in advertising on prominent US papers, China Daily shelled out an additional $7.6 million to The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, and The Boston Globe for printing copies of its own paper. For instance, the Los Angeles Times reportedly received $657,523 for printing services. The Communist party-mouthpiece had also spent $2,65,822 on advertising on Twitter.
US Newspapers push Chinese propaganda
As a part of its extensive media campaign to alter the global perception and silence the critics of the Communist Party of China (CCP), the State media has been covertly promoting its stories in foreign newspapers. In September 2018, US President Donald Trump questioned how China placed ‘propaganda ads’ in Des Moines Register and other US-based papers such that it resembled ‘real news.’ Reportedly, both Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal carried ‘paid supplements’ of China Daily titled China Watch.
China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news. That’s because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over! pic.twitter.com/ppdvTX7oz1— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2018
In 2018, both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran a sponsored news item titled, “Belt and Road align with African nations.” The same news story was accompanied with another story, critical of the Trump administration. It read, “Tariffs to take a toll on U.S. homebuyers.” The news item emphasised how rise in US tariffs on China would raise the cost of building homes in the US. China’s attempt to use foreign papers as a tool to further its interests had been pointed out by organisation such as the Freedom House, Hoover Institution, and other pro-democracy groups.
China Daily under watch by US Justice Department
As per reports, in the US, China Daily is registered as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as well as a Foreign Mission of the Communist regime. As such, it has been under the watch of the US Justice Department for years. China Daily had to compulsorily disclose its spending half-yearly under the rules of FARA. The recent filing done of June 1 revealed a detailed breakdown of expenditure incurred on advertising in US papers between November 2016 and April 2020.
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, China Daily has been the subject of fierce scrutiny. While the Chinese government officials had blamed the Coronavirus outbreak on the US, the Communist party mouthpiece had also parroted the same talking points. However, its advertising had decreased in recent months, as seen in the FARA records. While the last payment made to the Washington Post was in December 2019, China Daily had paid less than half of its average advertising charges to the Wall Street Journal since February 2020.
US papers spew hatred against India
The same US papers who had received funds from China Daily had also spread anti-India narrative through fake news and misleading op-eds. For instance, following the Balakot airstrike, the New York Times published an article titled, “After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its ‘Vintage’ Military.” The writer Maria Abi-Habib had carefully omitted some facts and indulged in pushing a false narrative that projected Indian Armed Forces in a poor light.
From India’s economy to elections, politics and demographics, these American publications have been found running constant anti-India propaganda on several issues.
The Washington Post, run by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and repeatedly labelled as fake news by Donald Trump, had earlier made several sweeping statements about hate crimes in India. The publication argued that hate crime was rising in India since Narendra Modi came to power, and victims of such hate crimes were overwhelmingly Muslims, while the perpetrators are mostly Hindus. The story was not based on official data or primary survey but instead on a defunct fake hate tracker named India Spend.