California Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the “journalistic integrity” of a news outlet that reportedly has ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and was recently designated a foreign agent by the Justice Department.
He made those comments during the annual gala for Sing Tao Daily, which is considered to have a pro-Beijing slant and has received money from both major political parties in the U.S.
During his speech, Newsom appeared to thank editor in chief Joseph Leung for his staff’s “balanced” coverage.
“Joseph, your work has been a labor of service – not only to the Chinese American community throughout the Bay Area but all throughout Northern California community as well. I want to commend you and your incredible staff, your leadership team at Sing Tao Daily for your dedication to journalistic integrity and for providing balanced news stories to Chinese Americans and beyond.”
He later added: “You represent the best of California and you remind us, as always, that diversity is our strength.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported on the speech Monday, just days after news surfaced that President Biden’s DOJ required it to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). The video of Newsom’s remarks was posted on Aug. 16, before DOJ’s filings last week.
According to Radio Free Asia, at least two of the company’s directors serve on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which serves as an advisory committee for the Chinese Communist Party’s legislature.
The 83-year-old organization has a long history in the United States with 46 years of providing a western edition. It was thanked by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., whose campaign reportedly spent about $3,500 for ads with the paper. The Democratic National Committee has also said it will place ads while the Republican National Committee (RNC) paid the paper $2,855 in November of 2020.
Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., ($12,364 since 2012) and former Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., ($6,600 of ads in 2016) have also paid money to the outlet.
Filings from DOJ state that Sing Tao News Corp. Ltd. is owned and engaged in political activities on behalf of entities that can be considered “foreign principals.” While DOJ acknowledged the group was for-profit and not owned by a foreign government, it considered its political activities were included under FARA.
“As part of their commercial news operations, the Sing Tao US entities create and distribute news reporting, opinion pieces, and other commentary regarding contemporary issues,” DOJ’s filing read.
China Daily, which is owned by the CCP, said last year that Sing Tao News Corp. Chairman Ho Tsu-kwok backed a controversial law that has been used to arrest pro-democracy journalists in Hong Kong.