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New docs reveal how Chinese propaganda has infiltrated​ American media

Nearly $20 million spent since December 2016

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

China Daily, a top Chinese propaganda outlet that operates in the United States, has paid American media companies nearly $20 million since December 2016 to disseminate propaganda directly from the Chinese Community Party, new government documents show.

Documents filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agent Registration Act show that China Daily paid news outlets for advertising space, which was used to push Chinese propaganda, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

From the Daily Caller:

[The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal] have published paid supplements that China Daily produces called "China Watch." The inserts are designed to look like real news articles, though they often contain a pro-Beijing spin on contemporary news events.

One insert from September 2018 touted an initiative pushed by Chinese President Xi Jinping with the headline: "Belt and Road aligns with African nations." The same insert ran a story titled "Tariffs to take toll on U.S. homebuyers" that asserted that U.S. tariffs on Chinese lumber would raise the cost of building homes in the United States.

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal by far took the most Chinese propaganda dollars, the FARA documents show.

  • The Wall Street Journal: $5.93 million
  • The Washington Post: $4.65 million
  • Foreign Policy: $240,000
  • CQ-Roll Call: $76,000
  • The New York Times: $50,000
  • The Des Moines Register: $34,600

China Daily also reported spending $265,822 on advertising with Twitter, though it was not clear what exactly the propaganda outlet advertised on the social media platform.

China Daily targets major cities across the U.S. and even prints a physical copy of its newspaper. It paid newspaper companies — like the Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, among others — more than $7.6 million to print its papers.

As the Daily Caller noted, advertisement payments from China Daily dropped off during the beginning months of 2020. It's not clear if the decline was related to the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China.

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