According to a report in The New York Times, there is a global network of news portals and websites that promote the Chinese agenda worldwide.
Importantly, the report has also identified the global network's links to India, including connections with the news company "Newsclick", which was previously under Enforcement Directorate (ED)'s investigation in 2021.
Here is a brief report on what we know so far on the India connection, its funding and the involvement of Chinese propaganda.
What is the India Connection?
The report identifies Neville Roy Singham as the individual responsible for funding and sponsoring this Chinese propaganda toolkit, including the site, Newsclick.
"In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Mr. Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points. “China’s history continues to inspire the working classes,” one video said", says the NYT report.
The same report also says: ". . .from a political party in South Africa to news organizations in India and Brazil, The Times tracked hundreds of millions of dollars to groups linked to Mr. Singham that mix progressive advocacy with Chinese government talking points".
According to the Times, Neville Roy Singham's father was a leftist academic, and Singham himself is a long-time activist who founded the software consultancy firm Thoughtworks, based in Chicago.
The New York Times report reveals that even while working at the consultancy firm, Neville Roy Singham advocated for creating an "egalitarian corporate culture." The report also mentions that Singham discussed the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara during his time at the company, as cited by an employee.
Neville Roy Singham is married to Jodie Evans, a former Democratic political adviser and the co-founder of Code Pink, as reported by the New York Times.
Singham has been involved in the dissemination of Chinese propaganda, including the distribution of an international propaganda toolkit aimed at enhancing China's reputation.
Additionally, he has supported the financing of various websites in India and other regions to further spread Chinese propaganda.
Reactions from Indian Ministers and Leaders
According to Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, platforms like NewsClick and others are promoting narratives that are echoed by political leader Rahul Gandhi, who repeats similar claims when he goes abroad.
These platforms propagate the idea that democracy in India is under threat, the judiciary is compromised, and electronic voting machines (EVMs) are tampered with. This indicates a complex conspiracy involving a network of operators funded by external vested interests.
During a press conference on Monday (August 7), Anurag Singh Thakur, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, stated, while citing the NYT report, that the news web portal NewsClick allegedly received funding from Neville Roy Singham to spread Chinese propaganda in India.
Thakur criticized these news portals for spreading fake news under the guise of fair reporting. He also mentioned that India had previously investigated NewsClick, but the government was accused of suppressing press freedom.
Thakur also alleged a close connection between the Congress party, China, and NewsClick, suggesting they are intertwined.
He claimed that Rahul Gandhi's "Nakli Mohabbat Ki Dukaan" prominently features Chinese goods, demonstrating his affinity for China.
What was the 2021 Investigation?
In 2021, the ED had discovered that the promoters of NewsClick had received approximately Rs 38 crores from entities allegedly linked to the Communist Party of China. That NewsClick was getting funds with entities linked to the CCP has now been repeated by The New York Times as well.
However, the opposition at that time, including the Congress, had vehemently defended the news agency and accused the government of suppressing freedom of speech, despite evidence pointing to the contrary.
Not only this, the Editors Guild of India had also put out a statement expressing 'concern' on the raids at NewsClick.
Matter Reaches Indian Parliament
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey also slammed the Congress in parliament citing the report, launching an attack on the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, accusing them of receiving Chinese funding for the party.
The BJP also criticized the Congress for defending Newsclick during an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate into its funding.
Previously, BJP leaders have also pointed out that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation received had donations from the Chinese embassy in India during 2005-06.
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