BBC News Banned in China Over Claims of Bias

BBC headquarters
Getty

BBC headquarters

The move comes a week after the U.K. withdrew a license for China Global Television Network to air in the U.K.

BBC World News has been banned from airing in China, according to the country's main broadcasting regulator.

In a statement given to the official Xinhua news channel, the National Radio and TV Administration said that BBC World News had "undermined China’s national interests and ethnic solidarity" and accused its China reports of having "infringed the principles of truthfulness and impartiality in journalism."

In response, a BBC spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action. The BBC is the world's most trusted international news broadcaster and reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favour."

The seemingly tit-for-tat decision comes exactly a week after British media regulator Ofcom announced that it had withdrawn a license for China Global Television Network, or CGTN, to air in the U.K.

Ofcom, Britain's communications watchdog, said it revoked the license after an investigation into the state-backed Chinese channel raised questions about its editorial independence and links to the Chinese communist party. U.K. law requires Ofcom to prevent organizations whose goals are primarily political from holding television news licenses. The regulator is investigating various other human rights-related complaints CGTN, one involving a former British consulate employee who said the channel aired his forced confession after he was detained and tortured by Chinese police for information related to Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

China was expected to retaliate in some form against the CGTN ban, and many analysts suspected the BBC would fall in the crosshairs.

In recent years the U.K. has expressed an eagerness to enhance trade with China, but diplomatic relations between London and Beijing instead plummeted. Among the many issues of discord was Britain’s decision to ban Huawei Technologies from its 5G wireless networks, U.K. support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protestors, and increased scrutiny over China's early handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab described China's BBC ban on Thursday as an "unacceptable curtailing of media freedom" in a tweet, adding, "China has some of the most severe restrictions on media & internet freedoms across the globe, & this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world."

BBC World News reporter Yalda Akim tweeted that the Chinese report accused the BBC of being responsible for a "slew of falsified reporting" on issues such as the reported genocide of ethnic Uighurs in camps in the Xinjiang region and China's handling of coronavirus. The BBC has alleged that women have been systematically raped, sexually abused and tortured at the "re-education" camps.