Crises in China and in Cuba necessitate more public diplomacy: Direct and uncensored information to Chinese and Cuban peoples need to be expanded.
Center for Free Cuba Crises in China and in Cuba necessitate more public diplomacy Direct and uncensored information to Chinese and Cuban peoples need to be expanded

Crises in China and in Cuba necessitate more public diplomacy: Direct and uncensored information to Chinese and Cuban peoples need to be expanded.

Prepared by staff of the Center for a Free Cuba


The Center has received reports that two dozen Radio Martí employees will be laid off for budgetary reasons. Cutting staff and programming to Cuba in the midst of multiple escalating crises is a short-sighted measure. Equally disturbing are reports that Voice of America has canceled Chinese-language programs in Taiwan at a time when Beijing is engaged in an increasingly hostile military posture against Taipei, and has been expanding its shortwave and AM broadcasts throughout the world to promote their propaganda objectives. Worryingly, the United States has been reducing its shortwave and AM radio programming while relying more on the Internet, which can be shut down and interfered with more easily than these older technologies.

It has been a priority of the Castro regime for the last 37 years to close Radio Martí or render ineffective this important information channel that reaches many Cubans on the island. Havana has used diplomatic and other means in its efforts. This has also included tighter control of the Internet through both legal and technical restrictions. On July 4, 2019, the Castro regime imposed Legal Decree 370 “ON COMPUTING IN CUBAN SOCIETY, which according to Reporters Without Borders will annihilate freedom of expression on the Internet in Cuba. These restrictions, efforts to block AM signals, and travel restrictions mean that shortwave radio is a key element in reaching Cubans on the island that the regime cannot completely block. Cubans from all over the island listen to Radio Martí and the audience reports received indicate satisfaction with the content of the programming. Radio Martí is an example of public diplomacy, also known as popular diplomacy, which communicates directly with the Cuban public and provides news, reports and commentary that are not subject to censorship by the Castro regime.


The Center has received reports that two dozen Radio Martí employees have been laid off for budgetary reasons. Cutting staff and programming to Cuba in the midst of the largest migration crisis in 63 years, with the outbreak of protests and the increase in repression throughout the island does not make sense. Public diplomacy needs to provide more access to uncensored news to Cubans on the island, and also for the US government to be able to send messages to Cubans on the island. The Internet has not yet replaced shortwave radio on the island. It has been proven that it is much easier for Havana to cut off the Internet than to block shortwave radio.

Equally disturbing are reports that Voice of America is canceling Chinese-language programs in Taiwan at a time when Beijing is engaged in an increasingly hostile military posture against Taipei. Now is the time to reach mainland China with uncensored information and conduct public diplomacy directly with the Chinese people. These cancellations affecting Taiwanese-American broadcasters raise great concern. Especially at a time when Beijing is expanding its AM and shortwave radio broadcasts around the world.

The fact that both outages to Martí Noticias and VOA’s Chinese broadcasts are occurring at the same time should raise concern in Congress. Especially when Russia, China, Cuba and Iran are holding joint military exercises in Venezuela and China is sending troops to Russia .

This trend has been going on for some time, but the current moment calls for more, not less, public diplomacy through channels that reach more Cubans and Chinese citizens, and that Beijing and Havana will find harder to shut down or block.


When it finally  went on the air on May 20, 1985,  Radio Martí marked a before and after within Cuba. At the time, President Reagan hoped that Radio Martí “would help calm the war hysteria on which much of the Cuban government’s current policy is based.” Despite the bellicose rhetoric from Havana, in three years the Castro regime  opened Cuba to inspections of its prisons by the International Red Cross in 1988 for the first  time since 1959, in response to the harsh public diplomacy of the administrations. Reagan and Bush, and the dissident voices on the island who reported on human rights. human rights violations in Cuba that were broadcast by Radio Martí. These inspections were suspended a year later, in 1989, due to negative news about conditions in the island’s prisons.

As was the case with Radio Free Europe, Radio Martí mobilized select emigrants who had been, or were then, public figures in Cuba and amplified their voices on the island as an alternative to the official discourse of the dictatorship. Unfortunately,  as was the case during the periods of détente with the USSR, when voices arose from Congress to silence Radio Free Europe , during the openings with Havana, voices also arose to close Radio Martí or reduce its funding. This was in response to  the regime’s requests to close it .

It is also safe to assume that, as was the case with Radio Free Europe during the Cold War, Havana sought to infiltrate the station and fill key positions at Radio Martí. The Cuban government has also spent considerable resources to block Radio Martí, but has failed to completely block its reach to Cubans on the island. In recent years there has been an effort to end shortwave broadcasts on Radio Martí and other American radio stations to the detriment of American public diplomacy.

Cuban officials are changing their censorship strategies on the island. On July 4, 2019, Legal Decree 370 “ON COMPUTING IN CUBAN SOCIETY” came into force in Cuba, further tightening the already draconian controls on information. Article 68, paragraph i, establishes as a violation of the law the act of “disseminating information contrary to the common good, morality, decency and integrity through public data transmission networks.” This contravenes the freedom of expression standards set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reporters Without Borders described Decree 370 as “annihilating freedom of expression on the Internet” and in 2022 included Cuba as the eighth worst country in terms of press freedom among 180 countries. According to Freedom House, it prohibits Cuban citizens from “hosting web content on foreign servers, endangering independent media.” “The law especially punishes journalists, bloggers and human rights activists with harsh penalties. Defendants can be fined up to 10,000 drinks , ten times the average monthly salary, or face six months in prison. The equipment they used may also be confiscated.

What is happening now with the Cuba Broadcasting Office (OCB) is not something isolated. The decision by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and VOA to  close the Chinese radio service  on October 1, 2011 was a mistake, and protests occurred at the time, but unsuccessfully. According to BBG, the decision to close was based “on the increasing number of Internet users and the decreasing shortwave audience in China.” This ignores that  the Internet in China is systematically censored  by the Chinese Communist Party, and that international broadcasts are  blocked  when they contain material that Beijing wants to suppress. Despite this, American broadcasting experts  claimed that the Internet was the future  in China when they announced the end of the broadcasting service in 2011.

While the United States closed its radio service to China, Beijing  expanded its shortwave radio service  internationally using frequencies abandoned by Western democracies. China is reaching large audiences in India  using shortwave radio . In the United States, an AM radio station was taken over by Beijing to cover the DC metropolitan area  with its programming in April 2011 . There are at least a  dozen other Beijing-run radio stations  across the United States. Communist China is on the offensive with its public diplomacy while the United States has been in retreat.

Cutting funding to Radio Martí and VOA Taiwan programming is part of a general US retreat from public diplomacy that is detrimental to US national interests and to relations between the people of the United States, China and Cuba.


Despite the challenges of carrying out a comprehensive audience study within Cuba, reports on radio and digital platforms, as well as direct testimonies from the Island, confirm that Radio Martí is listened to by Cubans. A survey published in April 2015 by USAGM found that 20% of Cubans , out of a sample of 1,200 adults on the island, listened to Radio Martí. The survey was conducted by Bendixen and Amandi International for Univision Radio. Taking into account that Radio Martí enters Cuba through different means (shortwave, AM, digital, pendrives), it is not a leap to say that a much higher percentage of Cubans listen to the station, amidst censorship measures taken by Havana. ).

Cubans listen to Radio Martí daily; in many cases, it is the only independent means of information they receive. Testimonies recently collected in different parts of the Island, from West to East, recognize the importance of Radio Martí transmissions.

“I am Alexander Rodríguez Santiesteban, activist of the Eastern Democratic Alliance. I live in Los Pinos, Banes, Holguín Province. I listen to the news on Radio Martí daily. I send greetings to all the people of Radio Martí. The radio programs are very good, since they inform us about what is happening in the world and in our country.” ( )

Mikel García from Cienfuegos explains: “I like to listen to it because the truth is told, the real truth that happens in this country, which is not told by Radio Ciudad del Mar, nor Radio Rebelde, nor Radio Progreso, any radio station here. in Cuba, but on Radio Martí the truth is told.” ( ).

Radio Martí’s digital platforms have experienced an increasing number of views, likes and shares from the Island, despite censorship. During 2020, for example, Radio Martí videos published on YouTube had 1,285,577 views in Cuba and 43,471 hours of viewing. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also showed a growing number of interactions from the Island, including the Radio Martí website, blocked for Cubans by the government, had 642,766 visits during 2020.

Measures taken by the OCB several months ago to implement structural and financial changes in order to transition legacy programming to a new strategy that can increase the participation of digital platforms and transform programming to impact broader audiences; reduce expenses and reduce contractor staff.

However, there are important aspects to keep in mind that will be detrimental and contrary to the mission of the OCB:

  • Shortwave and AM broadcasts cannot be eliminated as they are the main outlet for Cuban listeners, and the AM 1180 frequency is codified in the 1983 Cuban Broadcasting Law.

  • Moving the OCB to Washington DC will mean distancing itself from Cuban opposition activists who frequently visit Miami and have contact with OCB journalists.

  • The OCB needs to have journalists based on the island who can be hired to report.


Person-to-person contact and public diplomacy

Contact between people is an important aspect of diplomacy that has too often in the past been confused with contact between people and dictatorships when it comes to Cuba, China and other regimes. According to the  Encyclopædia Britannica , “public diplomacy, also called popular diplomacy, any of various government-sponsored efforts intended to communicate directly with foreign publics.” Radio Martí was inspired by Radio Free Europe (RFE) which successfully exercised public diplomacy and continues to do so today.

Background of Radio Martí, Radio Europa Libre and Radio Libertad (RFE/RL).

After World War II, the United States, with the expansion of Soviet control across Central and Eastern Europe, feared that Western Europe would also fall under Communist control and began seeking policies to stop it. Career American diplomat George Kennan developed in 1947 what would become known as the containment policy,  which consisted  of “long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansionary tendencies.” Part of this overall strategy involved public diplomacy, and Kennan advocated mobilizing select emigrants from countries taken over by the Russians to  put their voices on the radio in their respective languages , “broadcasting to five Eastern European countries” in what would become on Radio Libre. Europe (RFE).

These regimes saw the breakdown of monopoly control of information reaching their respective populations as a threat and began jamming radio transmissions, but their other countermeasures were more sinister. The Hoover Institution Archives published “ The History of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty ” in 2001 and described some of the active measures taken that rose to the level of terrorism.

“In addition to interference, communist governments used other methods to silence the radios. By viewing emigrated employees as traitors to their home countries, the regimes threatened employees and their families still living behind the Iron Curtain. The spies infiltrated the radio stations and occupied some key positions. Bombings and assassinations occurred. The most notorious murder was that of Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian writer and former associate of Bulgarian President Todor Zhivkov. They stabbed him with an umbrella containing a pellet of deadly ricin poison. On February 21, 1981, a tremendous explosion rocked the RFE/RL headquarters in Munich, causing $2 million in damage and some injuries, but no deaths. Stasi files opened after 1989 indicated that the attack was carried out by a group of international terrorists under the direction of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, and paid for by Nicolae Ceaușescu, president of Romania.”

Carlos the Jackal, a Venezuelan national,  attended the January 1966 tricontinental meeting in Havana  and was subsequently  trained in terrorist tactics  in Cuba. In Europe he had been linked with Cuban diplomats who met with him periodically, and France expelled three high-ranking Cuban diplomats  on July 10, 1975 . “The French Interior Ministry said investigators were convinced that the intelligence services of ‘certain nations’ had significantly assisted the terrorist network. The Cubans, according to the ministry, had been “constant visitors” to Carlos’ Paris hideout,”  The New York Times reported  in 1975.

Between 1974 and 1981, the United States had attempted to reach an agreement with Havana only to be repeatedly disappointed by the Castro regime’s bad faith actions. The Reagan Administration initially reached out on November 23, 1981 when Secretary of State Alexander Haig  met with Cuban Vice President Carlos Rafael Rodríguez  in Mexico and again in 1982 with Ambassador Vernon Walters  met secretly with Fidel Castro  in Cuba, and determined On both occasions there was no possibility of reaching an agreement with Havana. The White House continued with a policy of  reaching out directly  to the Cuban people.

Radio Martí launched by Ronald Reagan on May 20, 1985

Ronald Reagan is known as the “great communicator” and throughout his presidency he demonstrated the power of using the pulpit to address the American people. An early example of this was with  the creation  of Radio Martí and  his defense of the station’s creation on September 10, 1983 .

“The Soviets are terrified of the truth. They understand well and fear the meaning of the words of Saint John: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth is humanity’s best hope for a better world. That is why in times like these, few resources are more important than Voice of America and Radio Freedom, our primary means of getting the truth to the Russian people.[…] We have repeatedly urged Congress to support our long-term modernization . program and our proposal for a new station, Radio Martí, to broadcast to Cuba. The sums involved are modest, but for some reason this critical program has not been implemented. Today I am calling on Congress: help us spread the truth. “Help us strengthen our international broadcasting effort by supporting increased funding for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and authorizing the establishment of Radio Martí.”


The Washington Times , August 18, 2022

VOA cancels Chinese language programs in Taiwan

Critics say official broadcaster waters down China coverage

In this June 15, 2020, file photo, the Voice of America building stands in Washington. The new chief of U.S. global media is plowing ahead with changes to the Voice of America and other international broadcasters that are heightening concerns about their future as independent news organizations. Although Agency for Global Media chief executive Michael Pack has assured Congress that VOA and its sister networks will remain independent and pledged he would consult lawmakers on significant developments, last week he initiated personnel changes and began a review of visas for foreign employees. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

By Bill Gertz – The Washington Times – Thursday, August 18, 2022

Voice of America is canceling two Chinese-language programs focused on the standoff between China and Taiwan , in a move that critics say signals a weakening of the broadcaster’s coverage of communist China .

The cancellations, involving Taiwanese-American broadcasters, were recently announced in an internal message to employees of the US government’s international news operation known as VOA .

VOA spokesperson Anna Morris confirmed the changes to the program but downplayed the idea that they represent a reduction in China coverage . Instead, she said , they are part of a larger effort by VOA’s Mandarin language service to shift from traditional television to digital platforms.

“Our weekly Taiwan-focused ‘Strait Talk’ TV show will end, but coverage of Taiwan will expand on our daily talk show ‘Issues and Opinions,’ allowing for more comprehensive and timely discussions on Taiwan and China issues,” the company said. Mrs. Morris .

He said VOA Mandarin will also transition its television show “Eye on America” to the web and social media later this month.

The goal of the changes is to “counter disinformation from China in a more timely and agile manner,” Morris said . He added that VOA has “significantly strengthened” its coverage of Taiwan and China .

“We have increased our field presence in Taiwan from two to eight journalists,” he said . “We are putting more emphasis on the web and social media, where Chinese and Taiwanese viewers can access on-demand content more easily than through linear streaming.”

VOA has said similar changes were behind its decision in 2011, during the Obama administration, to cancel shortwave transmissions to China . Although the changes included a push to expand the screening of digital content, they drew criticism from some for limiting who in China could listen to VOA programs .

The station has also been criticized in the past by Republicans in Congress for programming that was seen as too conciliatory toward China and for promoting content that avoided controversial topics.

A person familiar with the inner workings of VOA and the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees all U.S. government broadcasting internationally, said the two VOA programs scheduled for cancellation have a strong focus on Taiwan .

The programs were hosted or produced by Taiwanese-Americans, including VOA veterans considered among the most seasoned and experienced in presenting Taiwanese affairs, the person said on condition of anonymity for this article.

“What they are doing is eliminating cutting-edge programs that will produce broadcasts that are less offensive to China ,” the person said.

VOA ‘s explanation that it is moving from television to digital raises questions about the reason for ending the shows, the person said, noting that the same shows could be produced for digital platforms.

VOA source said the broadcaster also recently hired several Chinese nationals as contractors, raising concerns that the Chinese Communist Party will step up its efforts to place undercover agents with a mission to influence VOA’s broadcasts . manner favorable to Beijing.

The source said VOA ‘s Mandarin service has been producing some broadcasts critical of China .

The cancellations of the two shows were announced amid another controversy over US government broadcasting.

President Biden has nominated former VOA chief Amanda Bennett to be CEO of USAGM, which runs six stations, including VOA and Radio Free Asia, with a budget this year of $840 million.

Ms. Bennett came under fire in 2018 for her role in abruptly cutting off a live VOA Mandarin Service interview with Chinese dissident Guo Wengui under pressure from China .

The Chinese government had threatened to block the accreditation of VOA ‘s Beijing bureau chief unless the interview was suspended, VOA sources revealed at the time.

VOA subsequently fired the head of its Mandarin service and several other employees over the interview.

Some Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the nomination of Ms. Bennett, who was VOA director from 2016 to 2020 and who resigned in protest of the Trump administration’s Senate-confirmed USAGM executive, Michael Pack. .

Pack, a conservative filmmaker, replaced all the heads of the various broadcasters funded by the government and overseen by the agency before Biden fired him in January 2021.

USAGM’s interim CEO is Kelu Chao.

The USAGM Watch blog stated in a post last month that VOA and other broadcasters need better leadership.

“We heard from our former colleagues at Voice of America ( VOA), who are political refugees from communist China and the fanatical regime in Iran, who fear the possible return of recent VOA director Amanda Bennett as their new head of media agency,” the blog post said. .

“During his tenure, these Voice of America broadcasters were deeply traumatized in their federal government workplace with the lowest morale of their employees when five editors, reporters and producers from the Chinese branch of VOA (the five mandarins of the VOA ) were suspended and some were fired for what they did. “I think he was bold journalism in exposing Beijing’s influence operations in the United States by interviewing Chinese whistleblower businessman Guo Wengui.”

Ms. Morris , a VOA spokeswoman , said the changes the broadcaster is making are “consistent with others we have made and that are strengthening VOA ‘s coverage of China’s activities and their impact.”

Former VOA White House foreign correspondent Daniel Robinson said he’s skeptical about explaining the show cancellations against a backdrop of questionable USAGM management decisions since the Biden administration fired all of Trump’s appointees. beginning of Biden’s term.

“It seems much more than a coincidence that these changes are happening now, with tensions high between the United States and the People’s Republic of China over Taiwan , and in the wake of visits by Pelosi and other [congressional delegations] to Taipei,” Robinson said. “Something must be going on, and I bet there would have been communications/consultations between the White House and USAGM.”

• Bill Gertz can be reached at .

Reuters , November 2, 2015

Voice of China

Beijing’s covert radio network broadcasts pro-China news to Washington and the world

By  Koh Gui Qing  and  John Shiffman

Presented on November 2, 2015 at 13:40 GMT

The Chinese government controls much of the content broadcast on a station that is flooding the American capital with pro-Beijing programming. WCRW is part of an expanding global network of 33 stations in which China’s involvement is hidden.

BEIJING/WASHINGTON – In August, foreign ministers from 10 countries criticized China for building artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. As media around the world covered the diplomatic clash, a radio station serving America’s most powerful city had a distinctive take on the news.

Located just outside Washington, DC, WCRW radio made no mention of China’s provocative island project. Instead, one analyst explained that tensions in the region were due to anonymous “external forces” trying to “insert themselves into this part of the world using false claims.”

Behind WCRW’s coverage is a fact that is never broadcast: the Chinese government controls much of what is broadcast on the station, which can be heard on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

WCRW is just one of a growing number of stations around the world through which Beijing broadcasts pro-China news and programming.

A Reuters investigation spanning four continents has identified at least 33 radio stations in 14 countries that are part of a global radio network structured in a way that obscures its majority shareholder: the state-run China Radio International, or CRI.

Many of these stations primarily broadcast content created or supplied by CRI or media companies it controls in the United States, Australia and Europe. Three expatriate Chinese businessmen, who are local partners of CRI, run the companies and, in some cases, own a stake in the stations. The network extends from Finland to Nepal, Australia and from Philadelphia to San Francisco.

At WCRW, Beijing has a direct financial interest in the Washington station’s broadcasts. Corporate records in the United States and China show that a subsidiary of the Beijing-based Chinese state radio station owns 60 percent of a U.S. company that rents almost all of the station’s airtime.

China has several state media outlets, such as the Xinhua news agency, that are well known around the world. But U.S. officials tasked with monitoring foreign media ownership and propaganda said they were unaware of the Chinese-controlled radio operation inside the United States until Reuters contacted them. A half-dozen former top U.S. officials said federal authorities should investigate whether the deal violates laws governing foreign media and agents in the United States.

A US law enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prohibits foreign governments or their representatives from holding a radio license for a US broadcast station. Under the Communications Act, foreign individuals, governments and corporations can have up to 20 percent direct ownership in a station and up to 25 percent in a station’s U.S. parent corporation.

CRI itself does not own stakes in American stations, but it does have a majority stake through a subsidiary of the company that leases WCRW in Washington and a Philadelphia station with an equally high-powered signal.

Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt said, “If allegations were made about the Chinese government’s de facto ownership of radio stations, then I’m sure the FCC would investigate.”

US law also requires anyone within the United States who seeks to influence American politics or public opinion on behalf of a foreign government or group to register with the Department of Justice. Public records show that CRI’s Chinese-American business partner and its companies have not registered as foreign agents under the law, called the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.

“I would do a serious investigation under FARA into a company that rebroadcasts Chinese government propaganda within the United States without disclosing that it is acting on behalf of China or that it is owned or controlled by China,” said DE “Ed” Wilson Jr. ., former Senior White House and Treasury Department official.

CRI headquarters in Beijing and the Chinese embassy in Washington declined to make officials available for interviews or to comment on the findings of this article.

Justice Department national security spokesman Marc Raimondi and FCC spokesman Neil Grace declined to comment.

Other FCC officials said the agency receives so many license applications that it only launches an investigation if it receives a complaint. People familiar with the matter said no complaint has been filed with the FCC about the CRI-backed network in the United States.


Chinese President Xi Jinping, irritated by a world order he sees as dominated by the United States and its allies, is aware that China is struggling to project its views internationally.

“We should increase China’s soft power, give a good Chinese narrative and better communicate China’s message to the world,” Xi said in a policy speech in November last year, according to Xinhua.

CRI director Wang Gengnian has described Beijing’s communications effort as the “borrowed ship” strategy: using existing media outlets in foreign countries to spread China’s narrative.

The 33 CRI-supported radio stations broadcast in English, Chinese or local languages ​​and offer a mix of news, music and cultural programs. The news is filled with stories highlighting China’s development, such as its space program, and its contribution to humanitarian causes, including earthquake relief in Nepal.

“We are not the evil empire that some Western media present us with,” said a person close to the Communist Party leadership in Beijing who is familiar with the CRI network. “Western media reports about China are too negative. We just want to improve our international image. “It’s self-protection.”

In some ways, CRI-backed radio stations serve a similar advocacy role to the US-led Voice of America. But there is a fundamental difference: VOA openly publishes that it receives funding from the US government. CRI is using front companies that hide their role.

Some of the programs broadcast in the United States cite CRI reports, but most do not. One program, The Beijing Hour, says it is “presented by China Radio International.”

Some programs are slick, others lack polish. While many segments are indistinguishable from mainstream American radio shows, some feature hosts who speak English with a thick Chinese accent.

Production values ​​vary because the broadcasts appeal to three distinct audiences: first-generation Chinese immigrants with limited English skills; second-generation Chinese are curious about their ancestral land; and non-Chinese listeners whom Beijing hopes to influence.

One thing the shows have in common: They generally ignore criticism of China and stay away from anything that casts Beijing in a negative light.

A late-morning newscast on October 15, broadcast in Washington and other U.S. cities, was identified only as “City News.” It reported that U.S. officials were concerned about cyberattacks, including one in which the personal information of about 20 million U.S. government workers was allegedly stolen. The broadcast left out a key element: It has been widely reported that US officials believe China was behind that attack.

Last year, as thousands of protesters demanding free elections paralyzed Hong Kong for weeks, news on CRI-backed stations in the United States presented China’s point of view. A report from the day after the protests ended did not explain why residents were in the streets and did not include comments from protest leaders. The demonstrations, according to one report, had “failed without the support of the people of Hong Kong.”

Many of these stations do not run advertisements and therefore do not appear to be commercially motivated.

Around the world, corporate records show, CRI’s replacements use the same business structure. The three Chinese businessmen, in partnership with Beijing, have each created a national media company that is 60 percent owned by a Beijing-based group called Guoguang Century Media Consultancy. Guoguang, in turn, is wholly owned by a subsidiary of CRI, according to Chinese company documents.

The three companies span the entire world:

• In Europe, GBTimes of Tampere, Finland, has an ownership stake in or provides content to at least nine stations, according to interviews and an examination of company documents.

• In Asia-Pacific, Global CAMG Media Group of Melbourne, Australia, owns or supplies programming to at least eight stations, according to corporate records.

• And in North America, G&E Studio Inc, near Los Angeles, California, broadcasts content almost full-time on at least 15 US stations. A station in Vancouver also broadcasts G&E content. In addition to distributing CRI programming, G&E produces and distributes original programs for Beijing from its California studios.

In a Sept. 16 interview at its offices near Los Angeles, G&E Chairman and CEO James Su confirmed that CRI subsidiary Guoguang Century Media has a majority stake in his company and has a contract with the company. Chinese radio station. He said a confidentiality agreement prevents him from divulging details.

His said he complies with US laws. G&E does not own the stations, but rather rents air time on them. “It’s like a management company that manages a condominium,” she said.

Su added that he is a businessman, not an agent of China. “Our American audience and our American public have a choice,” Su said. “You can choose to listen or not listen. “I think this is an American value.”

GBTimes CEO Zhao Yinong, who heads the European arm of the expat radio operation, confirmed that he receives several million euros a year from the CRI. In an interview in Beijing, Zhao said that he was “not interested in creating a fake China” and that he had “nothing to hide.”

Tommy Jiang, director of CAMG, the Australia-based company that owns and operates stations in the Asia-Pacific region, declined to comment.


CRI has grown remarkably since its founding in 1941. According to its English-language website, its first broadcast was broadcast from a cave and the newsreader had to scare away wolves with a flashlight. Today, CRI says it broadcasts around the world in more than 60 Chinese languages ​​and dialects.

CRI’s content is carefully written, and its treatment of sensitive topics such as the banned spiritual group Falun Gong strictly adheres to the government line. Those restrictions could leave China’s soft power driving an uphill battle with audiences in places like Houston, Rome or Auckland.

But CRI has something to offer station owners. Since 2010, CRI’s U.S. broadcast partner has struck deals that rescued struggling community radio stations, either by buying them outright or paying tens of thousands of dollars a month to lease virtually all of their air time. The latter is known as “time brokering” and is the method G&E used to get off the ground in Washington.

The 195-foot towers that broadcast Beijing’s agenda throughout the Washington region are located in suburban Loudoun County, Virginia, near Dulles International Airport. They broadcast a signal of 50,000 watts, the maximum for an AM station in the United States.

The towers came online in 2011. In the previous five decades, before the Chinese got involved, the station was known as WAGE, used smaller equipment and broadcast mostly local news and talk.

At only 5,000 watts, the signal didn’t reach very far. This didn’t matter much until the 1990s, when Loudoun County became a bedroom community for Washington. Travelers would miss the signal halfway to the capital.

In 2005, an American company called Potomac Radio LLC purchased the station and added nationally syndicated programming. Potomac Radio President Alan Pendleton said his company had a history of leasing time to ethnic programmers, including an hour a day to CRI at another station. However, WAGE’s revenue continued to decline, and in 2009 it went off the air.

“It was a very, very painful experience,” Pendleton said. “We were losing millions of dollars a year down the drain.”

Saying they hoped to resurrect the station, other Potomac Radio executives asked Loudoun County for permission in 2009 to erect three transmission towers on land owned by a county utility, records show. The new towers would multiply the station’s signal tenfold to 50,000 watts, reaching all the way to Washington.

In their application, Potomac Radio executives argued that the new towers offered the “last hope for preserving Loudoun County’s only” radio station. The documents do not mention plans to lease airtime to Su and CRI.

Potomac Radio also invoked the attacks of September 11, 2001, a day when the station provided “critical information to county businesses and parents” while cell phone service became overloaded. The new towers would contribute to public safety, advocates said.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the towers. In the days before the station returned to the air in April 2011, Potomac Radio requested permission from the FCC to change the name to WCRW.

When asked about the initials, Pendleton confirmed that they stand for China Radio Washington. The change was his idea, not CRI’s, he said.

Loudoun County officials were surprised when the amplified station returned as WCRW and began airing G&E and CRI content about China.

“It was all very misleading,” said Kelly Burk, the county supervisor at the time. “They presented it as if it were local radio and never let on what they were really doing.”

Potomac Radio’s Pendleton said there was no deception. CRI approached his company several months after the county approved the towers, he said.

Pendleton said he did not know G&E was 60 percent owned by a Chinese government subsidiary until Reuters informed him. But the deal complies with FCC law, he said, because G&E leases the airwaves rather than owning the station.

In any case, he said, the CRI is open to its goals: to present a window into Chinese culture and offer Chinese views on international affairs.

“If you listen to other state-sponsored broadcasters,” especially the Russian one, “they are really insidious,” Pendleton said. “IRC is not like that at all.”

Pendleton said he does not participate in WCRW’s content: he simply retransmits whatever programs come from CRI’s man in the United States, G&E founder James Su.


James Yantao Su was born in Shanghai in 1970, the year China launched its first satellite. He moved to the United States in 1989, he said, eventually settling in West Covina, a Los Angeles suburb, and becoming a U.S. citizen.

In the early 2000s, Su was a moderately successful media entrepreneur. But after his 2009 deal to create G&E, in which the Chinese state subsidiary has a majority stake, his fortune rose.

Today, the 44-year-old owns or co-owns real estate and radio stations worth more than $15 million, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. corporate, real estate, tax and FCC records. His projects include English and Chinese stations, a magazine, a newspaper, four apartment buildings, condominiums at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, a film festival and a charity that last year donated $230,000 to an orphanage in China. .

Two of its main companies are G&E Studio and EDI Media Inc. G&E dedicated a page on its website to presenting CRI as a “close” partner, but recently removed the page after Reuters made inquiries. EDI’s site says it has become “China’s overseas media and advertising representative” in the United States.

In 2013, the Chinese government presented Su with a special contribution award at a media event for Chinese broadcasters.

Other links are not as visible: the key disclosure that G&E is 60 percent owned by Guoguang Century (the Beijing company that is 100 percent owned by CRI) is contained in a footnote in a lengthy document filed with the FCC on behalf of another Su company, Golden City. Transmission, LLC.

Su declined to discuss his business career in detail. However, one of her first notable moments was a speech she gave in 2003, when she was in her early thirties.

Covered by China’s state media, the speech laid out Su’s vision for a business that could be profitable and also help China project its message in the United States. The business would have to be structured to comply with U.S. property laws and “support China’s ideology,” Su said.

In the same speech, he spoke of his fellow expatriates’ affinity for China. “The feeling of belonging to China among compatriots living abroad and their support for China’s current policies is growing every day,” Su said, according to Xinhua.

In 2008, Su gave a speech criticizing the American media for focusing its coverage of China on issues such as human rights.

The media was misleading “the American masses’ objective understanding of China, even generating hostile emotions,” Su said, according to a report by China National Radio.

It was in 2009 when Su’s vision really began to take shape. That year, records show, Su created G&E Studio.

G&E now broadcasts in English and Chinese on at least 15 US stations, including Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, Honolulu and Portland, Oregon.

The content is virtually the same on each station, produced by Beijing’s CRI or California’s G&E.

A typical hour on most stations begins with a short newscast that may alternate between news from China and stories about violent crime in the United States. In addition to overtly political coverage, topics range from global currency fluctuations and Chinese trade missions to celebrity wardrobe analysis and the modern challenges of parenting.

While Su owns a minority stake in G&E, he has structured his radio station holdings in several ways. According to the most recent FCC records, he is the majority owner of at least six stations, including the one in Atlanta, which he bought for $2.1 million in 2013.

In other cases it rents airtime. In Washington, for example, he rents virtually full time at WCRW for more than $720,000 a year through G&E. A Philadelphia station is rented under a similar agreement for at least $600,000 a year.

A Su spokeswoman said Reuters’ description of the scope of its network is “generally correct.”

Su declined to describe how he makes money when most American stations air virtually no commercials. He also declined to say how he got the money to finance his radio leases and acquisitions.

Its stations, Su said, offer American audiences an alternative point of view on Chinese culture and politics. He said he has “no way to control” what CRI broadcasts on the stations, nor is it part of any plan to spread Chinese propaganda.

“We’re just telling real news without filtering it to our audience,” he said.

On October 29, WCRW aired a program called “The Hourly News.” Among the top stories: Top Chinese and U.S. naval commanders planned to speak by video after a U.S. Navy ship passed near China’s new artificial islands in the South China Sea. Washington and its allies see the island-building program as a ploy to gain control of strategic sea lanes, and the Navy’s shipping was intended to counter China’s territorial claims.

WCRW omitted that side of the story.

The admirals are holding talks, the announcer said, “amid the tension the United States created this week.”

Additional reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim and Joseph Campbell in Beijing, Ritsuko Ando in Tokyo, Gopal Sharma and Ross Adkin in Kathmandu, Mirwais Harooni in Kabul, Joyce Lee in Seoul, Eveline Danubrata and Arzia Tivany Wargadiredja in Jakarta, Khettiya Jittapong and Pairat Temphairojana in Bangkok, Theodora D’cruz in Singapore, Mohammed Shihar in Colombo, Terrence Edwards in Ulan Bator, Diane Chan in Hong Kong, Jane Wardell and Ian Chua in Sydney, Balazs Koranyi and Harro Ten Wolde in Frankfurt, Jussi Rosendahl in Helsinki, Sara Ledwith in London, Julia Fioretti in Brussels, Can Sezer in Istanbul, Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Kole Casule in Skopje, Renee Maltezou in Athens, Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi, Radu-Sorin Marinas in Bucharest, Geert De Clercq in Paris, Marton Dunai in Budapest , Ed Cropley in Johannesburg, Selam Gebrekidan in New York, Anna Driver in Houston, Renee Dudley in Boston, Brian Grow in Atlanta, David Storey in Washington and Euan Rocha in Toronto

Reagan Library and Museum

Radio Address to the Nation on American International Broadcasting

September 10, 1983

My fellow Americans:

During my first press conference, nine days after taking office as President, I was asked a question related to Soviet intentions. In my response I quoted their own words: that they have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is that which will promote world communism; who reserve the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat, to achieve it. And I pointed out that we should keep this in mind when dealing with them.

They accused me of being too harsh in my language. I tried to point out that I was just quoting his own words. Well, I hope that the recent behavior of the Soviets dispels any lingering doubts about what kind of regime we are dealing with and what our responsibilities are as repositories of freedom and peace. Isn’t it time we all saw the Soviet rulers as they are, and not as we would like them to be?

Instead of telling the truth about the Korean Air Lines massacre, instead of immediately and publicly investigating the accident, explaining to the world how it happened, punishing those guilty of the crime, cooperating in the efforts to find the remains, recover the bodies, apologize and offer compensation to the families and work to prevent it from happening again, they have done the opposite. They have locked down the world, mobilizing their entire government behind a massive cover-up and then brazenly threatening to kill more men, women and children if another civilian airliner made the same mistake as KAL 007.

The Soviets are terrified of the truth. They understand well and fear the meaning of the words of Saint John: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth is humanity’s best hope for a better world. That is why in times like these, few resources are more important than the Voice of America and Radio Freedom, our primary means of getting the truth to the Russian people.

Within minutes of news of the Soviet destruction of the Korean plane, the Voice of America broadcast the story on its news programs around the world. We made sure that people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and most importantly, people in the Soviet bloc itself knew the truth. That includes all the Soviet misstatements, from their initial denials to all the tortured changes and contradictions in their history, including the fact that their UN representative continues to deny that they shot down the plane, even when their own government finally admitted that they did. .

Accurate news like this is as welcome as a plague among the Soviet elite. Censorship is as natural and necessary for the survival of your dictatorship as freedom of expression is for our democracy. That’s why they devote such enormous resources to blocking our transmissions within Soviet-controlled countries. The Soviets spend more blocking Western broadcasts reaching those countries than the entire global budget of The Voice of America.

To get the news about the Korean Air Lines massacre to the Russian people, the Voice of America added new frequencies and new broadcast times. But within minutes of those changes, new Soviet interference began. Luckily, the traffic jam is more like a sieve than a wall. International radio broadcasts can still reach many people with the news. But we still face enormous difficulties.

One Voice of America listener in the Middle East wrote: “If you don’t strengthen your broadcast frequencies, no one will be able to get anything from your show.” Our radio equipment is simply old, some of it vintage from World War II. I don’t care about people getting older; It’s just not that good for machines.

More than 35 percent of Voice of America broadcasters are over 30 years old. We have a similar problem at Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. We have 6 outdated 500 kilowatt shortwave transmitters. The Soviets have 37, and theirs are neither old nor outdated. We regularly receive complaints that Soviet transmissions are clearer than ours. One person wrote in and asked why it’s not possible for a nation that can send ships into space to make its own voice heard here on Earth.

The answer is simple. Today we are as far behind the Soviets and their allies in international broadcasting as we were in space when they launched Sputnik in 1957.

We have repeatedly urged Congress to support our long-term modernization program and our proposal for a new radio station, Radio Martí, to broadcast to Cuba. The sums involved are modest, but for some reason this critical program has not been implemented.

Today I am calling on Congress: help us spread the truth. Help us strengthen our international broadcasting effort by supporting increased funding for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and authorizing the establishment of Radio Martí.

And I appeal to you, especially those who come from Eastern Europe, Russia and Soviet-dominated countries, who understand how crucial this issue is, to let your representatives hear from you. Tell them that you want the Soviet rulers to be accountable for their actions even to their own people. The truth remains our most powerful weapon; We just have to use it.

Finally, let us come together as a nation tomorrow in a National Day of Mourning to share the families’ pain and resolve that this crime against humanity will never be forgotten anywhere in the world. Until next week, thank you for listening and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 pm from the Oval Office of the White House.

Date: 09/10/1983