Xinhua bought Washington office without gov’t permission

Xinhua bought Washington office without gov’t permission

WASHINGTON, June 22 Kyodo

China’s Xinhua News Agency failed to obtain adequate permission from the U.S. government before purchasing a building overlooking the Pentagon for use as its Washington bureau, the State Department said Thursday.

“The Xinhua agency should have requested prior authorization, from the Department of State, to purchase an apartment building near the Pentagon,” deputy State Department spokesman Philip Reeker told a news briefing.

Reeker was referring to a report carried by the Washington Times on Thursday that Xinhua violated U.S. law by failing to notify the department of its deal involving a seven-story building situated in Arlington, Virginia. The deal was concluded June 15 this year, the paper said.

Some U.S. government officials, concerned about spying activity by the state-owned Chinese news agency, want to block the deal on national security grounds, the newspaper said.

Reeker said the Chinese Embassy is required under the Foreign Missions Act to obtain prior authorization from the State Department for any purchase or sale of real estate by Xinhua.

The agency, considered linked to the Chinese government, was notified of the step in 1985 and the restriction remains in place, he said.

“We had no record of them providing notification of its plan to purchase this Virginia property,” the spokesman said.

Calls to the Chinese Embassy in Washington concerning Xinhua’s suspected violation were not returned.

The Washington Times quoted Jiang Liu, Xinhua’s Washington bureau chief, as saying the allegation is “nonsense.”

Defense Department spokesman Ken Bacon said Thursday the department is not particularly concerned about the new Xinhua office’s proximity to the Pentagon.

“We obviously have a number of countermeasures that we’ve installed over time to defeat or foil surveillance of various sorts,” Bacon told a news briefing.

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