A suspected foreign operative, who provided misleading information about his employer, faces being banned from the residence of the president and a hefty penalty when he returns to his home country.
Jingyi Zhang is likely to be barred from attending White House press conferences in future after the Washington correspondent for Shanghai Media Group’s Oriental Satellite Television was caught incorrectly stating which news organization he represented.
An official White House video that has since gone viral shows Zhang began asking his question without stating which broadcaster he was reporting for.
“Thank you very much Mr. President,” he can be heard saying on the video uploaded to Twitter. “We know many people around the world are playing close attention to this press conference.”
President Donald Trump interrupted the question to ask which media he was working for and Zhang could be seen not responding until being asked the same question twice.
“Good, where are you from?” the president said. “Where are you from?”
The reporter still did not provide the name of the media outlet he worked for and instead decided to confirm the country he was born in.
“I am from Taiwan,” he said.
However, National Pulse Chief Editor Raheem Kassam revealed this information was misleading because Zhang was actually employed by Chinese state-run media.
“‘Reporter’ Ching-Yi Chang told Donald Trump he is from Taiwan yesterday in the White House,” Kassam said on Twitter. “He was ‘born’ in Taiwan but he ‘works’ for Chinese state-owned Shanghai Media Group–a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP.)”
The finding prompted Turning Point USA Founding President Charlie Kirk to question how foreign agents were continuing to find their way into the president’s press conferences.
“How do agents of the CCP keep getting access to the White House briefing room?” he said on Twitter. “This ‘journalist’ lied to the president, said he was from Taiwan but he is actually with Shanghai Media Group, a CCP propaganda arm.”
Kirk asked his 1.7 million social media followers to help the Trump administration decide whether to take disciplinary action against anyone who provides false or misleading information about their affiliation with foreign governments.
“Retweet if he should be arrested and deported,” he said.
The viral post eventually reached the desk of the Oval Office and prompted the president to immediately suspend Zhang’s access to the White House briefing room.
“Cut him off now,” the president said on Twitter.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) swiftly responded to the incident and revealed Zhang’s attempt to conceal his links to the CCP may have breached the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan area and the mainland area.
MAC Deputy Minister and spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng believes Zhang breached the second paragraph of Article 33, which bans citizens from participating in any “cooperative activity involving political nature with any individual, juristic person, organization, or other institution of the mainland area” according to Taiwan News.
An investigation is underway and, if found guilty, the offending reporter could be fined anywhere between New Taiwan (NT) $100,000 (US$3,300) and NT$500,000 (US$16,500.)