Two senior state department officials said the decision was made because China has been tightening state control over its media, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has made more aggressive use of them to spread pro-Beijing propaganda.
"The control over both the content and editorial control have only strengthened over the course of Xi Jinping's term in power," said one official. "These guys are in fact arms of the CCP's (Chinese Community Party's) propaganda apparatus."
Beijing was not informed in advance of the decision and would be notified Tuesday afternoon, one official said.
Beijing's control of China's state-owned media has become "more and more draconian," the second official said.