Would the Chinese government allow U.S. government-controlled companies to broadcast pro-America news coverage in China?
Of course not. More than 27 years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, China's ruling Communist Party still censors “Tiananmen” and “June 4th”—not to mention the words “commemorate,” “demonstration,” and “movement” (Chinese web users get around the ban by replacing censored words with alternative phrases, which also eventually risk censorship).
But the U.S. government is allowing private offshoots of the Chinese government to do exactly that. A U.S.-based firm called G&E Studio has already acquired airtime on at least 15 radio stations in the United States, including cities like Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. G&E Studio is 60 percent owned by a Beijing-based group known as Guoguang Century Media Consultancy. Guoguang, in turn, is wholly owned by a subsidiary of China Radio International (CRI)—the Chinese government's radio broadcaster. Reuters has more:
A Reuters investigation spanning four continents has identified at least 33 radio stations in 14 countries that are part of a global radio web structured in a way that obscures its majority shareholder: State-run China Radio International, or CRI.
But isn't it illegal for the Chinese to buy U.S. communications assets—which allow the Communist Party to influence American public opinion and, by extension, policymaking? Technically, yes. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prohibits foreign governments or their representatives from holding a radio license for a U.S. broadcast station. But CRI exploits a loophole by buying up airtime through private subsidiaries like G&E Studio, which is known to lease a U.S. radio station's airtime instead of buying the station outright.
G&E Studio then has a green light to broadcast news coverage sympathetic to the Communist Party—even if it's critical of American foreign policy. In November 2015, WCRW-1190 AM—a Chinese-controlled radio station in the Washington, D.C. area—highlighted a story explaining the Chinese government’s concern about Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s recent visit to the Asia-Pacific region. An August 2015 broadcast claimed that tensions in the South China Sea were due to unnamed “external forces” attempting “to insert themselves into this part of the world using false claims”—not, say, China’s development and weaponization of artificial islands.
WCRW is not alone. Philadelphia-based WNWR-1540 AM regularly broadcasts “erratic blasts of outdated or China-centric news,” including the Chinese government’s announcement of a 15-billion-yuan school spending program just last year. As Fox News reports:
“...the news content on these stations takes a largely pro-Beijing line, including on the military tensions with the U.S. and its allies in the South China Sea.”
If that doesn't scare you, then maybe this video will:
The Communist Party knows the formula: Propaganda affects public opinion, which shapes policy. Our government should read the writing on the wall.