In tit-for-tat, China targets U.S. news media, including the L.A. Times

Los Angeles Times headquarters in El Segundo.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

China has ordered six U.S.-based news organization, including the Los Angeles Times, to file detailed information about their operations in China — the latest volley in a months-long battle between the Beijing regime and the Trump administration.

A statement from China’s foreign ministry issued late Monday demanded that the bureaus of the Los Angeles Times, ABC, Minnesota Public Radio, the Bureau of National Affairs, Newsweek and Feature Story News declare information about their staff, finances, operations and real estate in China within seven days.

The announcement came five days after U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said six Chinese media would have to register as foreign missions, which requires them to file similar information with the U.S. government.


The six were the third group of Chinese media required to do so this year. Each time, China has responded by forcing a similar number of U.S. media to file about their operations.

The Los Angeles Times has maintained a bureau in Beijing for about four decades.

The Chinese foreign ministry statement said China was compelled to take the step “in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the United States.”

U.S. relations with China haven’t been so strained since the two nations established diplomatic relations in 1979. A quick improvement is unlikely no matter who wins the White House.

Pompeo, in making his announcement, said that the targeted Chinese media are state-owned or -controlled, and that the U.S. wants to ensure that “consumers of information can differentiate between news written by a free press and propaganda distributed by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The media sector is one of several areas of growing tension between Washington and Beijing as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China over trade, technology, defense and human rights.

The U.S. ordered the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston earlier this year, and China responded by shuttering the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.