GOP Rep. Jim Banks calls for hearing on distribution of Chinese ‘agitprop’ in halls of Congress

For many years now, the Chinese Communist Party has been subversively inundating America — particularly Washington, D.C. — with propaganda thinly disguised as legitimate news by way of a state-run media publication known as China Daily.

But now, one member of Congress, Republican Rep. Jim Banks (IN), wants to put an end to that. He has called for a public hearing in a House committee to expose the Chinese propaganda and to educate lawmakers and their staffers on how to identify and avoid spreading it, Breitbart reported.

Congressman slams Chinese propaganda

In an email to Breitbart, Banks said: “[Chinese President] Xi Jinping hopes China Daily will muddy American lawmakers’ understanding of his policies.

“All of Congress must fully grasp the way the Chinese Communist Party’s brutalizes its own citizens and subverts the U.S.,” he added. “We certainly must not tolerate the presence of China’s agitprop in our own offices.”

The congressman said he recently sent a letter to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chair of the House Administration Committee, requesting a public hearing on the topic of China Daily and what could be done to counter the effectiveness — and even the mere presence — of the propaganda it contains.

Shining a spotlight

In Banks’ letter to Lofgren, he wrote: “China Daily is delivered to Congressional offices alongside independent newspapers like Politico and The Hill. So, uninformed staffers could easily mistake China Daily for a legitimate news source regarding China-US relations and the Chinese regime’s policies. That’s clearly the intention of the Chinese Communist Party.”

The congressman proceeded to point out that a public hearing could reduce the effectiveness of the propaganda by shining a light on it, perhaps also minimizing the chances that China Daily would continue to be mistaken for legitimate news coverage.

Furthermore, it could even lead to potential legislation that would limit or prohibit the spread of foreign propaganda in and around the government.

Fighting fake news

A likely impetus for Banks’ letter to Lofgren was a bombshell report from the Washington Free Beacon in December that exposed the manner in which China Daily had routinely violated federal laws for an extended period of time, with help from complicit media outlets here in the U.S.

It revealed that China Daily — which is funded by the communist government — had violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to disclose how much it spent placing deceptive advertisements disguised as legitimate news articles in American newspapers and on media websites. Those fake news articles invariably sought to downplay alleged human rights abuses and other scandals plaguing the Chinese government by portraying China with as glossy a veneer as possible.

Those deceptive ads, when viewed and taken as legitimate by members of Congress and their staffers, undoubtedly have the potential to skew those individuals’ views on China by covering up the communist regime’s worst offenses and over-hyping any positive attributes of its government.

To be sure, in a nation that cherishes free speech like our own, such foreign propaganda is an unfortunate — yet inevitable — byproduct of that liberty. But that is not to say that it should be allowed to spread unnoticed and with a false air of legitimacy.

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