The Chinese government is in the process of expelling American journalists from its country while conducting a massive disinformation campaign against the United States as the Coronavirus pandemic engulfs the globe. The simmering hostility has Trump administration officials mulling the banishing of Chinese media personnel, long seen as intelligence agents of the communist regime, from the United States in return. The information war between the two powers is heating up.
On March 17, China said it would expel journalists from The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The decision was said to be retaliation for a Trump administration move that “limited to 100 the number of Chinese citizens who can work in the United States for five state-run Chinese news organizations that are widely considered propaganda outlets,” The Times reported.
As China upped the ante in the media feud, it also began aggressively spreading the narrative that the Coronavirus may be a U.S.-engineered disease brought into China as a form of biological warfare during last October’s Military World Games, which were held in Wuhan, home of the virus that has caused a worldwide pandemic.
‘Must Speak for the Party’
U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus tweeted March 26 that “[p]ropaganda outlets that report to the Chinese Communist Party are foreign agents, not ‘journalists.’ Even General Secretary Xi says they ‘must speak for the Party.'” That missive came as reports suggested the U.S. government sees the Chinese action against the three major American news publications as presenting a golden opportunity to bounce Chinese nationals working in the United States under the guise of journalists but suspected of being spies.
“American intelligence officials have long asserted that many Chinese journalists abroad play a hybrid role in which they not only provide reports for publications and broadcasters in China, but also give information to Beijing’s intelligence apparatus,” The Times reported on March 26.
In February, the State Department designated five major Chinese news outlets working in the United States as “foreign missions” of the communist regime. “Every single one of these entities does, in fact, work 100% for the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party,” a State Department official said at a briefing, the Washington Examiner reported.
‘Number One Threat’
William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, is considered the top U.S. counterintel official. In a September 2018 podcast with CBS News, Evanina declared that:
“[…] right now China is [our] number one [espionage threat]; it’s not close. They have [a] strategic plan to overtake us economically. I believe we’re in an economic war with them – they have declared that war.
“They have a lot of resources they could throw at us, and they hit our academia, our industry, our research development, and obviously our government. The Chinese] bring ungodly resources that we can’t handle right now because they have – for instance, just in the student population, there’s 350,000 students that come to the U.S. every year to study. Majority of those are legitimate, but a lot of them aren’t, right?
“What the Chinese have gotten really good at is the non-traditional, which is not those out-of-embassy jobs where they send over – engineers, businessmen, students to do the same type of collection, recruitment, co-opting of – information gathers that – at mass scale, right, at mass scale, whether it be the student population engineers, the doctors, the scientists,” Evanina added.
The Trump administration using the removal from China of “journalists” from three untrustworthy U.S. establishment news organs as an excuse to clean out the media wing of the Chinese communist spy network here in our homeland seems a satisfying turn of events. But the propaganda war with China is getting only hotter as the Coronavirus crisis upends everyday life in America. More moves and counter-actions are surely on the horizon.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.
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