Canadian reporter Mark Bourrie quit his $50,000 a year job at Xinhua News Agency (part of China's state media arm) after it became apparent his employment was predicated on being willing to spy on behalf of the Chinese government. The last straw was when they asked him to "prepare a transcript of a press conference the Dalai Lama held with reporters in Ottawa last April."
As Bourrie tells it, Xinhua's assignments stretched far beyond the ordinary role of journalism agencies:
Bourrie refused requests from Xinhua to collect the names of all present at Falun Gong press conferences, but Lucy Zhou, a spokesperson for the group in Ottawa, said it isn’t unusual for other Xinhua staff, including Zhang, to collect names and take an unusual number of close-up pictures at protests.
Apparently it's an ongoing concern:
Xinhua’s espionage activities have been documented since the agency’s inception.
Chinese defector Chen Yonglin, who held a senior diplomatic post for the regime in Australia, told The Epoch Times last year that Xinhua reporters are still tasked with espionage duties.
“They play the role of a spy because Xinhua is actually an outreach organ of the CCP’s intelligence agencies. The nature of their work means they must use all means to infiltrate and obtain intelligence,” he said.
It’s a fact repeated in a 2005 report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which gained insight into Xinhua’s operations through former staff.
RSF detailed Xinhua’s lead role controlling information in China, exercising authority over censorship and propaganda directly under the control of the Propaganda Department.
“Xinhua is de facto run by the Propaganda Department. The agency gets its editorial line from this organ of the CCP and sticks to it slavishly,” reads the report.
Xinhua also publishes some reports in English that are not translated, to give the impression it covers sensitive topics challenging for the regime. Reporters say such reports are an international public relations exercise.