The Department of Justice deemed Sing Tao Newspapers, the US subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Sing Tao News Corporation, to be too pro-Beijing and forced it to register as a foreign agent in August 2021, according to Fox News.
Ocasio-Cortez's campaign shelled out nearly $1,500 for advertisements in the Chinese-language paper, which publishes in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The decision to work with Sing Tao was made long after the DOJ had classified it as a foreign agent.
Fellow Democrats Reps. Kevin Mullin and Grace Meng also paid between $1,000 and $7,000 to display campaign ads in the paper, as did Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis.
This was not the first time Ocasio-Cortez was featured in the newspaper. Prior to its designation as a foreign agent, the paper covered a 2020 foreign-language media roundtable in which she had taken part in.
She posted a picture of the story to Facebook, thanking the outlet, and was promptly criticized.
"Wait, so you're applauding a newspaper of an authoritarian regime that attacked peaceful protestors in Hong Kong?" one user asked. "Shouldn't you criticize them?"
Sing Tao, which operates the oldest Chinese-language paper in Hong Kong, has stated that it is privately owned and not connected to the Chinese Communist Party. However, an investigation revealed that a majority stake was recently bought by the daughter of a wealthy mainland property developer, and more than half of the content they push in the US is bought from a company based in Shenzen, China called Star Production Limited.
Given the strict control exerted by Xi Jinping and his government over the publication of news in China, many have warned of potential red flags.
As the Council on Foreign Relations reports, "China has one of the world's most restrictive media environments, relying on censorship to control information in the news, online, and on social media," adding that, "censorship guidelines are circulated weekly from the Communist Party’s propaganda department and the government’s Bureau of Internet Affairs to prominent editors and media providers."
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