China is top spender on foreign influence operations in US: report

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China has increased the amount it spent on foreign lobbying by roughly 540 percent between 2016 and 2020 — making the Chinese Communist Party the top spender on foreign influence operations in the US, according to a report on Tuesday. ​

An analysis of foreign-agent filings in the US by Axios shows that China hiked its spending from just over $10 million in 2016 to just shy of $64 million last year, making Beijing the top spender on foreign influence operations in the country.​

The report, crunching figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, noted that China’s propaganda efforts to create discord and spread disinformation have long-term ramifications for American business and politics.​

It pointed out that Xinhua, China’s state-run news service, only registered as a foreign agent last week – three years after the Justice Department notified the company that it must do so, the Foreign Lobby Report said.​

According to its initial filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Xinhua is described as “an independent legal entity” that is “subject to government oversight.”

But Xinhua is owned by the Chinese government, operated by Communist Party officials and viewed internationally as a propaganda mouthpiece for Beijing. 

The latest FARA filing showed $8.6 million in payments from Xinhua’s Chinese overseers to its US operations since March 2020, including direct payments to bureaus in Washington, Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco and Chicago. 

Other Chinese state-run outlets – CGTN and China Daily – have registered with FARA, helping to fuel the most spending on foreign agent activities than any other nation in 2020.

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