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China Daily was established in June 1981 and has the widest print circulation of any English-language newspaper in China (over 200,000 copies per issue, of which a third are abroad). The editorial office is in the Chaoyang District of Beijing, and the newspaper has branch offices in most major cities of China as well as several major foreign cities including New York City, Washington, D.C., London, and Kathmandu. The paper is published by satellite offices in the United States, Hong Kong, and Europe. The paper has registered as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in US since 1983. A copy of every issue of the paper distributed in the US would be sent to FARA units. Its top executives' individual working for the paper are required to be disclosed according to FARA. The paper has frequently bought ad space in US publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post.
Published Monday to Saturday, it serves those who are foreigners in China, as well as those who wish to improve their English, and it is often used as a guide to Chinese government policy. Its editorial policies are slightly more liberal than most Chinesenewspapers. It claims that the goal of this newspaper is the presentation of "China and China's news to a unique group of readers and to provide services and entertainment specially suited to those readers." As of its first publication on 1 June 1981, most of the editorial staff of China Daily are Chinese.
China Daily, along with the English-language Global Times, targets an international audience including foreign diplomats and tourists as it translates major Chinese newspaper articles in its editorials. The paper also offers programme guides to Radio Beijingand television, daily exchange rates, local entertainment schedules and national and world news.
The BBC called the paper "state-run." According to a 1993 book, China Daily is run by Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China. Currently, the website was owned by China Daily Information Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of the newspaper office of the China Daily, a corporation that was not yet transformed into a company limited by shares/stake. According to a publication by a department of the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform, the newspaper office was escrow to the State Council Information Office of China.