The State Department designated five Chinese state-run media outlets operating inside the United States as “foreign missions” of the ruling Communist Party on Tuesday.

Senior officials with the State Department made the announcement during a special press briefing yesterday, revealing that the outlets (Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation, and Hai Tian Development USA) would now be considered arms of the Chinese government.

“Every single one of these entities does, in fact, work 100% for the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party," a senior State Department official told reporters during a briefing.

The official declined to say whether the designations would make it easier to conduct counterintelligence operations against China in the U.S., particularly as the Trump administration has been ramping up efforts to fight Chinese espionage.

The move does not impose any journalistic restrictions on the employees of the five state-run organizations, the State Department official said. But it does require the organizations to keep the Office of Foreign Missions and the State Department up to date on their current personnel in the U.S., as well as their property holdings in the country.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Axios that “we are determined to treat China as it is, not as what we want it to be,” and that “in China, all media works for the Chinese Communist Party, as General Secretary Xi Jinping has explicitly stated.”

“Since these organizations work for the Chinese Communist Party, it is only fitting that we treat them as foreign missions, meaning they are subject to State Department regulation,” Pompeo said on Tuesday, adding that the five outlets are “clearly controlled by the CCP, and we are simply recognizing that fact by taking this action.”

The Foreign Missions Act of 1982 states that a “foreign mission” is defined as “any mission to or agency or entity in the United States which is involved in the diplomatic, consular, or other activities of, or which is substantially owned or effectively controlled by, a foreign government.”

The law says that “the treatment to be accorded to a foreign mission in the United States shall be determined by the Secretary after due consideration of the benefits, privileges, and immunities provided to missions of the United States in the country or territory represented by that foreign mission, as well as matters relating to the protection of the interests of the United States.”

Pompeo said that “this action is long overdue” because “for years, these so-called media outlets have been mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party, and these Chinese outlets are becoming more aggressive.”

Xinhua was ordered by the Department of Justice to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in 2018, but it does not appear that it has done so.

The U.S. division of the global Chinese-owed television company, CGTN America, registered as a foreign agent under FARA in 2019 after pressure from the DOJ.

Hai Tian registered under FARA years ago, but it is not clear whether China Radio International has done so.

China Daily registered under FARA in 1983, but it is not without controversy. Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, along with 33 other members of the House and Senate, sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr in early February urging him to investigate the outlets for apparent FARA violations.

"These propaganda organs operate freely within the open American system, while journalists inside of China face massive restrictions,” Pompeo said of the five outlets. “We hope that the Chinese Communist Party will reconsider its treatment of journalists inside of China.”

The same day the State Department made its announcement, China revoked the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters based in Beijing, calling the move punishment for an opinion piece that described China as “the real sick man of Asia.”

All of this comes as the U.S. has stepped up its efforts against Chinese espionage and trade theft. The DOJ unveiled a 16 -count superseding indictment against Huawei last week, accusing the Chinese telecommunications giant of engaging in a global racketeering conspiracy to steal trade secrets and evade sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

The U.S. has been warning its Western allies, especially its “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partners, not to use Huawei equipment for fear that the Chinese government could use “back door” access to spy on communications.

Earlier this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau has an estimated 1,000 investigations open into Chinese technology theft that involve “just about every industry sector.”