REVEALED: Chinese Communists Subsidized Trips For Western Journalists for Over 25 Years – CNN, NPR, WaPo, NYT, Reuters, ABC, NBC & More.

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Several Chinese Communist Party-linked groups – including the regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs – have subsidized trips to China for American journalists in an effort to “enhance” their understanding of U.S.-China relations since the 1990’s, The National Pulse can reveal from recovered webpages deleted by program sponsors. 

Among the outlets sending journalists to participate in the trips are The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio (NPR), CNN, Reuters, POLITICO, and more.

The “China-United States Journalism Exchange” is sponsored by the New York-based East-West Center, All-China Journalists Association, and the Better Hong Kong Foundation. Inaugurated in 2010, the program expanded upon a 1996 initaitive “supported” by the Chinese Communist Party’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that granted free trips to China for journalists from mainstream American media outlets.

The effort is closely tied to the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), a foreign influence group operating under the Chinese government’s United Work Front Department.

The United Front, according to the U.S.-China Security and Economic Review Commission, aims “to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition” to the Chinese regime and “influence foreign governments and other actors to take actions or adopt positions supportive of Beijing’s preferred policies.”

In practice, CUSEF has sponsored trips to China for mainstream corporate media outlets in exchange for “favorable coverage.” As revealed through Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filings with the Department of Justice, the group’s explicit goal of the trips is to “effectively disseminate positive messages to the media, key influencers, and opinion leaders, and the general public.”

Better Hong Kong Foundation 2020 Annual Report.

Sponsors of the “China-United States Journalism Exchange” are also closely tied to CUSEF, as American journalists participating in the trips have also repeatedly met with CUSEF Founding Chairman Tung Chee-Hwa.

Members of CUSEF’s Board of Governors – including Ronnie Chan and Daniel Fung – are also on the board of the East-West Center, which has hosted CUSEF’s Tung as a keynote speaker. Chan is also the Chairman of the Executive Committee for another program sponsor: the Better Hong Kong Foundation.

Details surrounding program participants, sponsors, and activities were wiped from the East-West Center’s website in late 2017.

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The now-deleted program description explains how a cohort of American journalists travel to China and a Chinese Communist Party-run media cohort travels America before meeting to “exchange opinions on how media coverage of each country can be improved”:

The Chinese participants visit Washington D.C. and one to two other cities in the U.S. while the American journalists will visit Beijing, another mainland China city and Hong Kong.  Following these study tours, all Chinese and American journalists meet for a 2-day dialogue to share their travel experiences and observations and to exchange opinions on how media coverage of each country can be improved.

The trips are subsidized by the aforementioned Chinese Communist Party-linked sponsors:

The program covers all air transportation, lodging, and program-related ground transportation and meals for participating journalists.

Deleted webpages from the East-West Center documenting the 2011 delegation reveal American journalists “enhanc[ing] their understanding on US-China relations” from lectures by Chinese Communist Party officials:

In China, the Americans explored how China’s 12th Five-Year Plan is impacting China’s economic and social development; helping meet its ambition to become a “moderately wealthy” nation; and improving the standard of living for the vast majority of its citizens over the next five years. They were surprised and impressed by Ningbo’s wealth, technology, rapid pace of development and massive infrastructure and construction projects, including a new port city. […] In Beijing, they met with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Commerce and with academics to enhance their understanding on US-China relations

Other deleted webpages reveal that high-level editors from state-run Chinese outlets – including the Deputy Director of the People’s Liberation Army Daily paper – comprising the delegations.

The following lists identify the journalists – from outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio (NPR), CNN, and Reuters – participating in the trips.

2011 Delegation:

  • Mr. Rob Ballenger, Swing Editor/Producer, National Public Radio, Washington, DCMs.
  • Ms. Patrice Hill, Chief Economic Correspondent, Washington Times, Washington, DC
  • Mr. Joe Schatz, Senior Writer, Congressional Quarterly, Washington, DC
  • Mr. Kopin Tan, Senior Editor, Barron’s Magazine, New York, New York
  • Mr. David Whiting, Page One Columnist, The Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California
  • Mrs. Roya Wolverson, Senior Writer, Time Magazine, New York, New York
  • Ms. Holly Yeager, Middle East and Asia Editor, The Washington Post, Washington, DC
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2012 Delegation:

  • Mr. Nathan Bomey, Reporter, Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan
  • Ms. Autumn Brewington, Op-Ed Page Editor, The Washington Post, Washington, DC
  • Ms. Janet Cho, Business Reporter, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Ms. Juliet Lapidos, Staff Editor, The New York Times, New York City, New York
  • Mr. Tom Weseleski, Editorial Page Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2012 Trip.

2013 Delegation:

  • Mr. Saeed Ahmed, Supervising News Editor, CNN Digital, Atlanta, GA
  • Mr. Kevin Beesley, Asia Editor, National Public Radio, Washington DC
  • Mr. Joshua Keating, Staff Writer, Slate Magazine, Washington DC
  • Ms. Valerie Volcovici, Correspondent, Reuters, Washington DC
  • Mr. Brian Wingfifeld, Energy/Trade Reporter, Bloomberg News, Washington DC
  • Mr. Alan Wirzbicki, Editorial Page Writer and Editor, Boston Globe, Boston, MA

2014 Delegation:

  • Ms. Diane Bartz, Reporter, Reuters News Agency, Washington, DC
  • Ms. Rebecca Davis, Senior Video Producer, NBC News, New York, New York
  • Mr. Marc Stewart, Reporter/Substitute Anchor, KMGH-TV ABC 7 News, Denver, Colorado
  • Mr. Stephen Stromberg, Editorial Writer, The Washington Post, Washington DC
  • Mr. Alexander Travelli, Asia Online Editor, The Economist, New Delhi, India
2014 Trip.

2015 Delegation:

  • Mr. Daniel Beekman, Reporter, Seattle Times, Washington
  • Mr. Andy Curliss, State Government Editor, The News & Observer, North Carolina
  • Ms. Carrie Halperin, Producer at Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN, New York
  • Ms. Lomi Kriel, Reporter, The Houston Chronicle, Texas
  • Mr. Robert Little, Senior Investigative Editor, National Public Radio (NPR), Washington DC
  • Ms. Sandra Ward, Senior Editor, Barron’s, New York

2016 Delegation:

  • Mr. Jesus Ayala, Producer, ABC News, Glendale, California
  • Mr. Jake Heller, Producer and Host, NBC News, New York, New York
  • Ms. Elizabeth Jones, Reporter, KUOW Public Radio, Seattle, Washington
  • Mr. Don Lee, Economics Reporter, Los Angeles Times (Tribune Washington Bureau), Washington, DC
  • Ms. Elizabeth Ralph, Deputy Editor, Politico Magazine, Arlington, Virginia
  • Ms. Jessica Schulberg, Foreign Affairs Reporter, Huffington Post, Washington, DC

Natalie Winters

Natalie Winters is an Investigative Reporter at the National Pulse and contributor to The National Pulse podcast.