Chinese Propaganda Broadcaster Fined 225K in the UK For Bias and Forced Confessions

BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 2: Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a signing ceremony with Dominican Republic's President Danilo Medina (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People on November 2, 2018 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images

The Chinese state-owned broadcaster CGTN has been fined £225,000 by Britain’s media regulator for its apparent bias in coverage of the pro-democracy Hong Kong protest movement and for airing alleged forced confessions on its airwaves.

On Monday, Ofcom announced that it would be fining China Global Television Network £125,000 for its failures in abiding by “due impartiality” regulations in the UK during five separate broadcasts concerning the Hong Kong freedom movement in 2019.

Another fine of £100,000 was imposed against the CCP propaganda outlet for violating privacy and fairness regulations during two reports from 2013 and 2014, which covered the arrest of British citizen Peter Humphrey in Shanghai, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Mr Humphrey filed a complaint with Ofcom, saying that CGTN aired what he claimed was a forced confession.

“I was constantly harassed in prison over signing a thing they call an admission of guilt and a statement of remorse. I never signed those documents because I did not admit to having committed that offence as charged,” he said following his release from prison.

Humphrey was imprisoned in 2013 amid an investigation into the pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline’s dealings in China. He claimed that he was essentially “collateral damage in a wider dispute” between the CCP and the British company.

The Ofcom fines were criticised by Chinese foreign spokesman Zhao Lijian — who was recently revealed by Breitbart London to have been following explicit pornography accounts on Twitter, despite both porn and Western social media sites being banned in China.

The CCP’s top “wolf warrior” diplomat said that China reserves the right to make “necessary countermeasures” in response to the Ofcom ruling. In a retaliatory strike following the revocation of CGTN’s licence, Beijing blocked Britain’s BBC World Service from the communist country.

Zhao went on to say that “Humphrey should repent and make a fresh start instead of making unfounded claims. By doing this, not only will his wrongdoings not be erased, he will also be subject to moral judgment”.

The fines come one month after Ofcom revoked CGTN’s licence to operate in the UK, saying that the network is “ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party”, which violates the country’s broadcasting laws.

In March of last year, the Trump administration designated CGTN, along with four other Chinese state media outlets, as “foreign missions”, stating that the propaganda outlets are not in the business of providing actual news, but rather in towing the Communist Party line.

Ofcom also announced on Monday that it found Star China Media — the company through which CGTN obtained its British broadcasting licence — had breached fairness and privacy protocols in two further reports alleged to have aired forced confessions.

Former British consulate employee in Hong Kong, Simon Cheng, who claimed to have been kidnapped and tortured by the Chinese dictatorship for 15 days in 2019, filed a complaint with Ofcom, alleging that the communist propaganda outlet aired a confession given by him under duress.

Last February, Cheng told Breitbart London: “It was a very harsh experience that I went through, I went through rounds and rounds of interrogation, asking me about my roles in the protests [in Hong Kong] and the UK’s roles in the protests.”

Britain’s broadcasting regulator also upheld a complaint filed on behalf of Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai, who was sentenced to ten years in prison last year for “illegally providing intelligence overseas” after selling books critical of CCP leaders. The Swedish national’s daughter filed the complaint in Mr Gui’s stead, claiming that the confessions aired by CGTN in 2016 and 2018 were forced.

“We found the individuals concerned [Mr Cheng and Mr Gui] were unfairly treated and had their privacy unwarrantably infringed. Among other things, CGTN failed to obtain their informed consent to be interviewed,” an Ofcom spokesman said.

“In addition, material facts which cast serious doubt on the reliability of their alleged confessions were left out of the programmes,” the spokesman added.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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