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Sing Tao Daily is seen at a newstand in San Francisco's Chinatown in 2017. Photo: Liz Hafalia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Justice Department has forced a major Chinese-owned newspaper's U.S. subsidiary to register as a foreign agent, records show.

Why it matters: The DOJ has stepped up scrutiny of foreign-owned media in recent years, and its demand that Sing Tao U.S. register as a foreign agent comes amid high tensions between Washington and Beijing over the latter's influence efforts in the U.S.

What's new: Sing Tao disputes its status as a foreign agent, but according to filings this week under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the DOJ determined the newspaper's U.S. operations qualified as foreign influence efforts.

  • "The Department of Justice's FARA Unit has concluded that [its U.S. activity] constitutes political activity for purposes of the FARA," Sing Tao wrote.
  • According to Sing Tao, the Hong Kong-based company is privately owned and not controlled or influenced by the Chinese Communist Party.

Background: Sing Tao's parent company operates the oldest Chinese-language newspaper in Hong Kong.

  • In June, the daughter of a wealthy mainland property developer purchased a majority stake in the company.
  • Sing Tao's U.S. operations consist of newspapers in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and a radio station based in Burlingame, California.
  • More than half of Sing Tao's U.S. content is purchased from a Chinese company called Star Production (Shenzhen) Limited, according to its FARA filings.

Be smart: The Chinese government exerts significant influence over domestic media coverage.

  • It's also stepped up more overt media crackdowns of late, particularly in Hong Kong, where the publisher of a leading opposition newspaper was recently sentenced to 14 months in prison.
  • The Chinese government has also stepped up its media influence operations abroad in recent years, leading to a substantial increase in foreign agent spending in the U.S.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.