China orders four US media outlets to disclose finances, staff

China ordered four US news outlets to disclose details of their staff and financial operations in the country within seven days. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 01 July 2020

China orders four US media outlets to disclose finances, staff

  • Retaliation for Washington’s crackdown on four Chinese state media outlets
  • US restrictions on Chinese media ‘exposed the hypocrisy of the so-called press freedom touted by the US’

BEIJING: China on Wednesday ordered four US news outlets to disclose details of their staff and financial operations in the country within seven days, as a media row escalates between Washington and Beijing.
The Associated Press, United Press International, CBS and NPR must report the information — as well as details of any real estate they hold in China — in retaliation for Washington’s crackdown on four Chinese state media outlets, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
China’s actions are “entirely necessary countermeasures against the United States’ unreasonable oppression of Chinese media organizations in the US,” Zhao said at a regular press briefing.
The US State Department on June 22 reclassified four Chinese state media outlets as foreign missions in the United States, adding to five others designated in February.
All nine outlets “are effectively controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in June.
After the first group of outlets were ordered to cut their Chinese staff working in the United States, Beijing hit back by expelling more than a dozen US nationals working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Beijing also ordered the papers, as well as Voice of America and Time magazine, to declare in writing their staff, finances, operations and real estate in China.
Zhao on Wednesday said the US restrictions on Chinese media “exposed the hypocrisy of the so-called press freedom touted by the US.”
China urges the US to “correct its mistakes and stop the political suppression and unreasonable restrictions on Chinese media,” Zhao said.
All nine Chinese state-run news organizations are required to report details of their US-based staff and real estate transactions to the State Department. Their news reporting will not be restricted, US officials said in June.
Relations between Beijing and Washington have worsened as the two sides trade barbs over blame for the COVID-19 pandemic and human rights violations.
The United States has led a global backlash against a national security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing Tuesday, cutting off defense exports and revoking the financial hub’s special trade status.
US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was growing “more and more angry at China” over the pandemic, which he blames on Chinese inaction and lack of transparency.
Meanwhile, China has accused the Trump administration of politicizing the pandemic to deflect from its own handling of the crisis.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met senior Chinese official Yang Jiechi in Hawaii last month, with little apparent effect on soaring bilateral tensions.


Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

Updated 20 October 2020

Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

  • Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation
  • Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters

BANGKOK: A Thai court on Tuesday ordered the suspension of an online TV station critical of the government, which has accused it of violating emergency measures aimed at ending three months of protests.
Voice TV had also been found to have breached the Computer Crime Act by uploading “false information,” digital ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong told reporters.
Thailand has drawn criticism from rights groups for banning demonstrations and the publication of news seen as damaging by the government as it tries to end the protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the powerful monarchy.
Rittikorn Mahakhachabhorn, Editor-in-Chief of Voice TV, said it would continue broadcasting until the court order arrived.
“We insist that we have been operating based on journalistic principles and we will continue our work presently,” he said.
Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation.
Voice TV is owned in part by the Shinawatra family of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, who was overthrown by Prayuth in a 2014 coup. Both fled Thailand to escape corruption cases they branded political.
Street protests since mid-July are the biggest challenge in decades to the monarchy under King Maha Vajiralongkorn and to Prayuth, who rejects accusations of engineering an election last year to keep power.
The demonstrations have been largely led by youths and students in contrast with a decade of street violence between supporters of Thaksin and conservative royalists before Prayuth seized power.
Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters, including many of the main leaders.
A lawyer for two of them, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, said they would be arrested again on Tuesday as soon as they had been freed on bail granted by a court over earlier charges related to the protests.
Prime Minister Prayuth has said he will not quit in the face of the protests.
His cabinet agreed on Tuesday to hold an emergency session of parliament next week about the crisis. Prayuth’s supporters hold a majority in the parliament, whose upper house was named entirely by his former junta.