Headquarters of Voice of America broadcasting network in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP /Alexey Agarishev / Sputnik

Publicly-funded US broadcaster Voice of America has rubbished criticism from the White House that it is promoting Chinese “foreign propaganda” on the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Friday, President Donald Trump’s administration claimed VOA pushed Beijing’s message by tweeting a video of celebrations at the end of Wuhan’s quarantine measures, and noting the US had surpassed China’s death toll.

“VOA too often speaks for America’s adversaries– not its citizens,” the White House claimed, adding: “Journalists should report the facts, but VOA has instead amplified Beijing’s propaganda.”

At least 18,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, compared with about 3,000 Chinese nationals, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

VOA director Amanda Bennet pushed back at the criticism. While not mentioning the Trump administration, she noted that the broadcaster had reported on China’s efforts to initially hide the coronavirus outbreak.

“VOA has thoroughly debunked much of the information coming from the Chinese government and government-controlled media,” she said in a statement.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the White House’s comments as “outrageous” and said they undermined VOA’s work around the world.

VOA is among several US media organizations – including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times – effectively banned from reporting in China by Beijing following its coverage of the outbreak.

– AFP