Feb 11, 2021 - World

China bans BBC World News after U.K. pulls license for state-run CGTN

The BBC logo seen on an umbrella

The BBC logo seen on a broadcaster's umbrella on Feb. 13. Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chinese regulators banned BBC World News on Thursday, accusing the British broadcaster of a "slew of falsified reporting" on Beijing's coronavirus response and oppression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, according to Chinese state media.

Why it matters: The move was widely seen as retaliation against the U.K. after Britain's own broadcasting regulator withdrew the operating license for China Global Television Network, citing its control by the Chinese Communist Party.

Background: The BBC published a graphic exposé last week detailing allegations of systemic rape, sexual abuse and torture against women in Xinjiang's vast network of internment camps, where more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities are believed to be detained.

  • China has vigorously denied the allegations and refers to any foreign condemnation of its alleged human rights abuses as "interference" in its domestic affairs.
  • State-run news agency Xinhua claimed that the BBC violated "requirements that news reporting must be true and impartial, and undermined China's national interests and ethnic solidarity."

The big picture: The latest escalation comes amid heightened tensions between China and the U.K., which recently opened a pathway to citizenship for people in Hong Kong who have fled Beijing's crackdown on democracy in the former British territory.

Between the lines: BBC World News "was only available in hotels & a small number of residential compounds" in China, Jo Floto, editor of BBC World Service's Newshour, said on Twitter. "The general public in China was never allowed access. Even with such a limited distribution, BBC reports on China were often censored," he added.

What they're saying: "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 BBC said in a statement.

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