The Chinese audiovisual regulatory authority announced Thursday, February 11, that it had banned the broadcasting of BBC World News, saying that the contents of the international news channel had “Seriously” violates the directives in force in the country.
In a press release, the authority considers that the continuous news channel has notably violated the principle according to which “The information must be truthful and fair” and ” born [doivent pas porter] prejudice to China’s national interests ”. Also, she “Does not allow the BBC to continue broadcasting in China”. The concrete impact of this ban will actually be limited, since Chinese households were already not receiving the BBC, which was only present in international hotels.
The ban comes after the BBC aired on February 3 a report containing harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence against Uighur women in Chinese internment camps.
The BBC regretted this decision. “We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this measure”, said a spokeswoman for the British channel. “The BBC is the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster. She covers topics from around the world honestly, impartially, and without fear or favor. “
The British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, denounced one “Unacceptable attack on freedom of the press”. “China has some of the tightest restrictions in the world on media and internet freedom, and this latest move will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world.”, estimated the head of diplomacy in a tweet. The US State Department has indicated that it «Condemn[ait] absolutely “, him, too, this BBC ban.
Systematic rapes and torture of Uighurs
In this long-term investigation based on numerous testimonies, the BBC had reported accusations of systematic rape, sexual violence and torture of women detained by police and guards in the western region of Xinjiang, China.
The region is home to the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority, and has seen widespread security repression by Chinese forces in recent years in response to separatist unrest.
The report reports electric shock torture, including anal rape by guards using electric batons. The women were victims of gang rapes and forced sterilizations, according to witnesses. “Screams echoed throughout the building”, according to a witness quoted by the radio.
Human rights groups estimate that at least one million Uighurs and other Turkish-speaking Muslims are being held in camps in Xinjiang.
A tense context between the two countries
Beijing’s decision comes a week after Ofcom, the UK’s media regulator, revoked the license for China’s public English-language news channel CGTN (China Global Television Network), considered party-bound Chinese Communist.
It is announced in a tense context between London and Beijing. Their relations were already damaged by London’s condemnation of the controversial Chinese security law in Hong Kong and the crackdown on pro-democracy movements, which led the UK to grant privileged rights to some nationals of the United Kingdom. former British colony to emigrate to its territory.
The UK denounced the ” barbarity “ of Beijing to the Uighurs and announced in early January measures to prevent goods related to the alleged forced labor of this Muslim minority from reaching British consumers.
The BBC also recently aired a documentary accusing Beijing of covering up the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had also angered Beijing.
According to British Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, the decision to ban BBC World News is « regrettable », more “Not at all surprising”. “Although this is a largely symbolic retaliation, the deteriorating environment for journalism in China is a concern for all of us.”, he told Agence France-Presse.