BBC World News Banned from Airing in China

Paramilitary police officers stand guard in front of a poster of late communist leader Mao Zedong on a street south of the Great Hall of the People during the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing on May 22, 2020. - China moved to impose stringent new …
GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Communist China’s state broadcasting regulator has pulled Britain’s BBC World News from its airwaves for alleged content violation, including on impartiality and undermining the repressive regime’s ‘ethnic solidarity’.

Chinese state-owned English language news channel CGTN reported on Thursday that the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) claimed BBC World News, the international television news network operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation, was alleged to have violated broadcasting regulations related to impartiality.

CGTN also claimed that the British broadcaster had been found to have “undermined China’s national interests and ethnic solidarity”.

NRTA said in a statement: “As the channel fails to meet the requirements to broadcast in China as an overseas channel, BBC World News is not allowed to continue its service within Chinese territory. The NRTA will not accept the channel’s broadcast application for the new year.”

The move appears to have happened effective immediately, with two Reuters journalists based in China saying that the channel had gone blank, as China ushered in the Lunar New Year.

The move may be a tit-for-tat reprisal, after Britain’s communications regulator Ofcom revoked CGTN’s licence to broadcast in the United Kingdom last week because of its possible links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The broadcasting watchdog is also continuing to investigate complaints that CGTN aired alleged forced confessions, including from a British Consulate employee in Hong Kong.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin threatened last week that the CCP “reserves the right to take action in response”.

The BBC came into conflict with the communist state over its widespread oppression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang. Last year the broadcaster’s Andrew Marr grilled China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, on drone footage showing members of the Muslim minority group, heads shaven, being forced onto trains.

Marr confronted the diplomat with a comparison to oppression under Nazism, saying: “When we see interviews like that, and we say people blindfolded and led off to trains to be taken to re-education camps, it reminds people in the West [of] what was going on in Germany in the 1930s.”

Xiaoming claimed in response that “there’s no such concentration camp in Xinjiang”, implying that the footage, which Marr said had been authenticated by Western intelligence agencies, was fake news.

The ambassador also rejected testimony he was shown of Uighur women revealing that the state forcibly sterilising them.

More recently, Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other minorities who had survived the communist-run concentration camps told the BBC that women had been gang-raped and tortured, sometimes sexually assaulted with electric batons, electrocuting the women from the inside.

Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party’s most belligerent propaganda mouthpiece, claimed that authorities have labelled the BBC a “rumour mill”, writing that “the decision to suspend its broadcast sends a clear message that China doesn’t accept fake news”.

The news outlet drew attention to the BBC’s coverage of the Xinjiang concentration camps — which Global Times labelled “re-education camps” — labelling it a “sensational story”, alleging also that the “broadcaster also distorted coronavirus reports about Wuhan”.

An estimated two million people are imprisoned in Xinjiang’s concentration camp system, the number having fallen from around three million after reports the regime sold some prisoners into slave labour.

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