Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump on Friday ordered a broad review of US media regulation, a move that comes amid mounting concerns about US media freedom in China.
The move by Trump comes as Chinese authorities have taken a tough stance against media outlets that they say have not adhered to their strict laws, while media outlets are seeking to expand overseas.
The US government has stepped up efforts to tighten up the country’s media environment following Trump’s election, which many Chinese analysts believe was driven by his anti-media policies.
The White House has made no secret of its frustration with China, where many people see their news coverage as largely controlled by the Communist Party.
“We are very much concerned about what is happening in China and what it means for freedom of the press,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
“The US is working with China to address that concern.”
The new review is a significant development for Trump who has sought to improve ties with China.
He and Chinese President Xi Jinping have been discussing a range of issues, including trade, terrorism, and other issues, and the two leaders have met twice.
But Trump has also made it clear that he will not be seeking a trade deal with Beijing.
The review will be conducted by a group of senior White House officials including chief strategist Stephen Bannon, the White House chief of staff, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, and chief strategist Gary Cohn Jr., who heads the White Trump campaign.
A top White House aide, Hope Hicks, who is also a deputy assistant to the president, was confirmed to head the review.
Hicks has been tasked with reviewing the countrys laws and regulations and will also be given authority to oversee White House social media accounts, which Trump has threatened to ban.
She has previously been responsible for the review of China’s government’s online social media policies, which have resulted in the shutdown of more than 150 websites.
China has been under pressure to crack down on what critics say is the pervasive use of social media to spread information and promote propaganda.
The new White House review comes as a new report released on Friday showed that Chinese officials have increased their efforts to suppress online discussion of the country and other major news outlets in recent months.
In the report, published by a Washington-based think tank called the Beijing Institute of International Studies, officials from the State Council’s Information Office and the Ministry of Public Security also shared their methods to stifle debate on social media and other platforms.
“There is no room for debate on any issue or for criticism,” said one official in the report.
“It is very important that the government not be able to dictate to any group of people what they can say or what they cannot say.”
Trump’s recent moves to tighten restrictions on the press have prompted questions about the Trump administration’s relationship with China after he criticized Beijing for its crackdown on the media last year, but the president has not publicly called for a trade war with Beijing over its actions.
The United States and China have long been at odds over a range, but most recently over Beijing’s use of cyberattacks to target the US financial sector.