Feb. 12 (UPI) — Authorities in Hong Kong confirmed Radio Television Hong Kong is to cease broadcasts of BBC World Service and BBC News Weekly, a day after China said the British broadcaster is to be banned on the mainland.
The BBC ban in Hong Kong, a former British colony, is to go into effect at 11 p.m. Friday local time, China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua reported.
The British broadcaster came under Chinese criticism last week for a report that included details of systemic gang rape and torture of young Uighur women in Chinese internment camps. China has denied the allegations; the BBC has said it stands by its reporting.
Speculation is rising whether the measures are retaliation for a British decision to revoke the license of China’s state-owned network CGTN. Authorities in Britain said CGTN broke local laws because of its lack of independence from the Chinese government.
In their statement this week, China’s National Radio and Television Administration said the BBC’s report on the Uighurs “infringed the principles of truthfulness and impartiality in journalism,” CNN reported Friday.
The NRTA also accused the BBC of undermining Chinese national interests and the unity of the “Chinese people.” The BBC’s license to broadcast in China will be suspended for one year, the Chinese agency said.
Britain has condemned the decision, though BBC availability is limited to international hotels on the mainland, according to CNN.
“China’s decision to ban BBC World News in mainland China is an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. “China has some of the most severe restrictions on media and Internet freedoms across the globe and this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world.”
The Chinese Embassy in London defended the BBC ban, calling the decision “legitimate and reasonable.” The embassy also said the BBC report on the internment camps is a “malicious attack” against the Communist Party.
China has said the camps are “re-education centers” for ethnic minorities.