State-controlled propaganda outlets from China are exploiting a U.S. visa program to embed reporters, editors and producers in America, according to Axios News.
Ironically, China is tapping H-1B “skilled” visas, which are intended to bolster U.S. competitiveness by seeding American firms with educated workers from abroad. But Axios reports that these visas are also being used to boost foreign state media operations on U.S. soil — yet another abuse of the fraud-prone program.
Though other foreign “news” outlets use H-1B program, China leads by a large margin, landing visas for state-run media such as CCTV, People’s Daily, China Daily and Xinhua. Two prolific H-1B employers, Sinovision and China Press, are “discreetly controlled by Chinese authorities,” according to Reporters Without Borders.
The Washington Post reported last year that a Chinese state-controlled media outlet worked with that country’s security services to scrape social media for information on “key personnel and organizations” in America.
The U.S. has an “I” visa for foreign reporters, but it strictly limits work to newsgathering and typically restricts time in the county. Since H-1B is good for three years, is renewable and holders can be sponsored for legal residency, more foreign media are going that route.
Via the H-1B program, Chinese media here pay their “highly skilled” countrymen as little as $33,000 per year, according to MyVisaJobs.com. This, despite large numbers of Americans seeking journalism careers.
Axios noted that many Chinese media using H-1B visas are “frequent purveyors of misinformation” that benefits America’s adversaries. “In addition to reporting that aligns with Beijing’s interest, Chinese state media coverage of the invasion of Ukraine has backed spurious Russian narratives on the war, frequently aimed at attacking the U.S,” Axios stated.
In a notable perversion of the H-1B program, the U.S. issued visas to EDI Media, which publishes the stateside edition of the Xinmin Evening News. Even though Washington officially designates Xinmin as a “foreign mission” of Beijing, the visas were rubberstamped anyway.