A Reuters Special Report
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In August, foreign ministers from 10 nations blasted China for building artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. As media around the world covered the diplomatic clash, a radio station that serves the most powerful city in America had a distinctive take on the news.
Located outside Washington, D.C., WCRW radio made no mention of China’s provocative island project. Instead, an analyst explained that tensions in the region were due to unnamed “external forces” trying “to insert themselves into this part of the world using false claims.”
Behind WCRW’s coverage is a fact that’s never broadcast: The Chinese government controls much of what airs on the station, which can be heard on Capitol Hill and at the White House.
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. WCRW is just one of a growing number of stations across the world through which Beijing is broadcasting China-friendly news and programming.
American officials charged with monitoring foreign media ownership and propaganda said they were unaware of the Chinese-controlled radio operation inside the United States until contacted by Reuters.
Public records show that CRI’s U.S. Chinese-American business partner and his companies haven’t registered as foreign agents under the law, called the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
Justice Department national security spokesman Marc Raimondi and FCC spokesman Neil Grace declined to comment.