National Security

DOJ Orders Major Chinese-Owned US Newspaper To Register As Foreign Agent

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
Font Size:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered a major Chinese-owned U.S. newspaper to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Sing Tao U.S., published by the Hong Kong-based Sing Tao News Corp., distributes Chinese-language newspapers throughout California. It joins a growing list of foreign-owned media subsidiaries that are required to register under FARA, Axios reported Wednesday. The law requires any individual who wants to engage in political activities for the benefit of a foreign principal to register and provide reports of his or her activities to the attorney general.

Sing Tao is not owned directly by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, Beijing has influenced control over its Hong Kong-based parent company, Sing Tao News Corp., since it was sold by its original owner in 1999, according to a report published by the Center for International Media Assistance in 2013.

The State Department designated four Chinese-language media outlets foreign agents in June 2020. A government official claimed that the CCP exercises “full editorial control” over the content of CCTV, the China News Service, People’s Daily and Global Times.

Other media outlets required to register under FARA include Russia’s RT and Qatar’s AJ+. (RELATED: Republicans Ask DOJ Why Qatar-Owned Al Jazeera Isn’t Registered As Foreign Agents)

FARA was passed in 1938 due to concerns of Nazi activities in the U.S. It “requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities … to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities,” according to the Justice Department.

FARA defines political activities as “any activity that the person engaging in believes will … or … intends to … influence any agency or official of the Government of the United States or any section of the public within the United States with reference to formulating, adopting, or changing the domestic or foreign policies of the United States.”

A 2016 DOJ Inspector General report found that FARA non-compliance is widespread. The statute was last amended in 2007.