15.05.2023 Author: Christopher Black

Radio Free Asia: A US Propaganda Organ

Radio Free Asia: A US Propaganda Organ

On April 26, Mary Zhao, a writer for Radio Free Asia, wrote a bizarre piece attacking China for not providing “transgender girls with necessary medicines,” exposing once again the absurd lengths to which the US propagandists will go to undermine a nation it has targeted. The same day, they posted a cartoon of French President Macron portrayed as a chicken for daring to state that “Europe must reduce its strategic dependency on the U.S. to avoid getting “caught up in crises that are not ours” and for China commenting positively to what he stated. On the same front page, they posted false stories about North Korea, Myanmar and Vietnam.

So, as we celebrate International Press Freedom Day on May 3, what is Radio Free Asia?   The answer-it is an arm of the US propaganda forces arrayed against the peoples of Asia to try to maintain US hegemony over them by manipulating their minds, their thoughts, their perception and their understanding of the world around them.

RFA tries to mask its role as a propaganda organ by attempting to appear objective. One of the devices they use is a Fact Check page, where its editors ask themselves questions and provide their own answers. For instance, they ask if the waters between Taiwan and the mainland of China are international waters. The answer they give is, of course, yes, and so US naval patrols through the Taiwan Straight are, according to them, legal under international law.

But of course, they arrive at this answer by regarding Taiwan as a separate country and not part of China when in fact Taiwan is part of China and so the waters between the mainland and Taiwan are all Chinese territorial waters just as Canada’s waters in its archipelagos are considered internal waters by Canada. There are other examples of their “facts” clashing with reality, but let’s examine what RFA is, who created it, who controls it and what its objectives are.

RFA, like Voice of America, is not an independent news organisation, a free press. It is an arm of the US government propaganda machine. It was set up by the US government in 1951 when it began broadcasting to mainland China from an elaborate set of transmitters in Manila. It was then an arm of the Committee for Free Asia, connected to the Central Intelligence Agency that thought of it as the beginning of an operation in the Far East that would rival Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, also CIA propaganda organs.

The Committee for Free Asia was founded as the Eastern counterpart of the Free Europe Committee. It later changed its name to the Asia Foundation. It still exists, though its open ties to the C.I.A. were covered over a decade ago by placing front companies in its structure.

It was only after Radio Free Asia’s transmitters were operating, that the C.I.A. realized that there were almost no radio receivers in private hands in mainland China. An emergency plan was drawn up to solve that problem, which included the flying balloons, holding small radios tuned to Radio Free Asia’s frequency, toward the mainland from the island of Taiwan, where the Chinese Nationalists had fled after the Communist takeover of the mainland in 1949. The plan was abandoned when the balloons were blown back to Taiwan. As a result of these and other problems, Radio Free Asia went off the air in 1955, since it was not deemed an effective use of funds. However, it was revived in 1996 under the guidance of then Senator Joe Biden and then President Clinton.

Radio Free Asia, as it now exists, was incorporated in March 1996, and began broadcasting in September of that year. Although RFA directors preferred to broadcast under the name “the Asia-Pacific Network”, Republican representatives, including Chris Smith and Jesse Helms, insisted on returning the name to Radio Free Asia. Its initial $10 million-dollar annual budget came from the US Treasury.

The American government control of RFA, as with VOA, is quite open. In fact, they regularly brag about its propaganda role in achieving their foreign policy objectives. In 2021, the US Congress passed a resolution supporting it, framed in the usual American manner, about RFA being an “independent source of news,” about providing news to “closed societies,” meaning any country that resists their hegemony, about events that never took place, and so on and so forth. It says, in part,

“Recognizing the 25th anniversary of Radio Free Asia and its mission to provide an independent source of news to closed societies in Asia, and, Whereas in 1989, a bipartisan group of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, led by then-Senators Joseph R. Biden and Jesse Helms, came together and sponsored legislation to create Radio Free Asia, and, Whereas Radio Free Asia was established by United States law as part of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.) And was incorporated as a private, non-profit corporation on March 11, 1996, and made its inaugural broadcast in Mandarin to the Chinese people on September 29, 1996,”

The Senate

Recognizes the importance of Radio Free Asia on its 25th anniversary as an independent news organization chartered and funded by Congress with a mission to bring uncensored, accurate news to people living in closed societies in Asia…”

RFA was brought under the authority of the United States Information Agency with the passage of the International Broadcasting Act in 1994 where it remained until the agency’s cessation of broadcasting duties. It was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, under the aegis of the US State Department, in 1999. In September 2009, the 111th Congress amended the International Broadcasting Act to allow a one-year extension of the operation of Radio Free Asia and then, in 2017, RFA and other networks, such as Voice of America, were placed under the authority of the newly created U.S. Agency for Global Media.

The original mandate of RFA, set out in the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 which authorized the revival of RFA, contains the following paragraph:

“The continuation of existing U.S. international broadcasting, and the creation of a new broadcasting service to people of the People’s Republic of China and other countries of Asia, which lack adequate sources of free information and ideas, would enhance the promotion of information and ideas, while advancing the goals of U.S. foreign policy.”

The last line of that paragraph sets out the true purpose of the US Agency For Global Media, and its various arms, such as RFA and VOA.  They exist for one reason only, and that reason has nothing to do with independent journalism or the truth about anything, and those listening to their broadcasts or reading their website are treated by them as dupes of a propaganda war.

For example, the current head of RFA, Bay Fang, has worked as a journalist, but she also has worked for the US State Department. She is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, overseeing public diplomacy and public affairs for Europe and Eurasia, prior to joining RFA. We see the close interaction and connections between the US government and RFA, both through the executive branch, the State Department, through the US Congress, as well as through its connections to the US intelligence services.

This direct control of VOA, RFA, and other propaganda organs by the US government, is confirmed by this report from National Public Radio of January 22, 2021, setting out the in fighting that took place in the Agency between Trump ad Biden appointees.

“On Friday evening, Kelu Chao, acting head of the USAGM, fired the recently appointed presidents and boards of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, named by her predecessor, Trump loyalist, Michael Pack. Over his seven months in office, Pack had embarked on a scorched-earth assault on the agency’s broadcast networks, telling conservative media outlets he needed to “drain the swamp” and that its newsrooms were overrun with anti-Trump journalists.”

It continues,

“The Agency had no choice here. It was a necessary act to immediately to reverse the attempt to literally steal these essentially government corporations that the Congress funds to the tune of perhaps a quarter of a billion dollars a year,”


“The United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM), known until 2018 as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), is an independent agency of the United States government that broadcasts news and information.  It is considered an arm of U.S. diplomacy.”

The USAGM supervises Voice of America (VOA) and Office of Cuba Broadcasting as well as state-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and Open Technology Fund. The board of USAGM has an advisory role. It previously supervised USAGM media networks directly, but was replaced with a single appointed chief executive officer (CEO) as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, passed in December 2016.

And finally,

“At her nomination hearing before the US Congress on June 7, 2022, Amanda Bennet, the newly appointed head of the Agency said,

“It is also important to remember, this agency is tasked with promoting foreign policy goals and national security interests of the United States. This position has an impact on our nation’s interests across the globe.

But before we go further, some background on Amanda Bennett and why

She was chosen to head the Agency. Bennett has long been part of the US establishment, and enjoys the benefits of playing the game for money and position. Throughout her career, she has shown that she is an ideologue who has adopted the ideas of American superiority, American exceptionalism, and American dominance of the world.

She began her career by becoming editor of the Harvard Crimson, an elite position at an elite university and then, on graduation in 1975, somehow was given a job in Canada as a journalist with the Ottawa Citizen, but not long afterwards she joined the Wall Street Journal where she worked for 23 years. In 1983, she spent a year reporting from China.

In 1998, she left the Wall Street Journal to work for a US regional newspaper called The Oregonian as managing editor, three years later moved to the Lexingon-Herald Leader, a newspaper falling on hard times and losing money based in the state of Kentucky and in 2006, moved once again to Bloomberg News, where, until June 2013, she was an executive editor.  Under her direction, a team of Bloomberg journalists, for the first time, made a personal attack on Xi Jinping by claiming to list the personal assets of family members of the senior Chinese leader.

She resigned from Bloomberg News in November 2013, for reasons unknown. She then resurfaced three years later as head of Voice of America. Her current, and second husband, Donald Graham, is the son of the long-time publisher of the Washington Post, Katherine Graham, who, with the help of US intelligence services, brought down President Nixon in the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. He became publisher of the Washington Post after his mother, and their holding company Graham Holdings owned both the Post and Newsweek until sold to Jeff Bezos and was invited to the Bilderberg Group, consolidating her connections to the high and powerful.

That she and her organisation are creatures of the American government is proven by the fact that her appointment to head the US Agency For Global Media had to be approved by the US Congress, since it is considered a government appointment. One only needs to read the transcripts of her testimony and the questions put to her by US Congressmen to understand the deep connection between RFA and the US government. In her nomination hearing before the Congress, John Barrosso, the U.S. Senator from Wyoming, welcomed here nomination to “vigorously work to advance the priorities of the United States, and Senator Kane asked her how she would contribute to “advancing U.S. foreign policy interests?”

In her response, she expressed alarm that China and Russia are more successful in getting out their message in Africa and Latin America than the United States. She stated,

 “They are also, as I discovered during my travels, absolutely endemic, shockingly endemic, both in Africa and in South and Latin America, and we need to draw on our global capabilities and enhance our global capabilities to push back at this disinformation by flooding the zone with accurate information and I look forward to helping USAGM do that.”

She does not explain what she means by “modelling” but it must mean shaping the narrative, shaping reports to suit their objectives. She then stated that the purpose of the Open Technology Fund is to provide technical means to bypass and overcome the defences put up against US propaganda by Russia and China and other countries.

She stated,

 “One of the most important things that the Open Technology Fund does right now is support and develop and distribute circumvention tools that enable people—audiences—safely to access the content provided by USAGM around the world even when it is denied to them through their own countries’ mechanisms.

She further stated that her Agency and the BBC work together, that they are parts of a linked propaganda network.

USAGM works closely with the BBC to ensure that, in markets where both are operating, efforts are co-productive and not redundant.

A series of supplementary questions were put to her, which she answered in writing. They are interesting to read since they reveal, for instance, that, in the case of Voice of America, the USA is losing its audience in China. The Chairman of the nomination committee stated this,

Reports indicate that USAGM/VOA has experienced a loss of 55 million people of VOA’s audience in China. This information emerged in a program review meeting that included the entire China branch, in which VOA’s program review office informed staff of the audience survey. By some calculations, that translated to an 85-90 percent audience loss for VOA’s Mandarin Service.

Then a question was asked that again confirms that the USAGM is a propaganda agency, which needs to counter Chinese and Russian propaganda.

“In light of these claims, how can the committee be confident of your ability to lead USAGM to counter Chinese and Russian propaganda, if you are con- firmed?”

Bennett responded, in part, “

If confirmed, I look forward to helping USAGM draw upon and enhance our global capabilities to push back at Chinese and Russian propaganda, to amplify its capacity and to flood the zone with accurate information.”

In other words, she intends to flood the zone-meaning Russia and China, with propaganda.

In conclusion we can understand that Amanda Bennett takes her direction from the US government and its secret services. She in turn controls Fay Bang, who also has links to the US State Department.  There is no wall between RFA and the US government. RFA is an integral part of the US government propaganda machine.

Radio Free Asia tells its listeners and readers that they are “independent,” “objective,” and provide “the truth,” but the evidence is abundant and irrefutable that RFA is a propaganda organ created, financed, controlled and directed by the American government and its intelligence services.

In a world that just celebrated Independent Press Day, it is important to know which news organisations are really independent and which are not, otherwise the unaware public lend themselves to manipulation, of being pawns of those, such as Radio Free Asia, who work against their interests, who works against the interests of the peoples of Asia, to confuse them, to mislead them, in order to make them the future slaves of American tyranny.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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