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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.

Go deeper

Feb 10, 2021 - World

Norway's youth parties call for end to China free trade talks

Activists in Brussels protest against China's policies towards Uyghurs on Feb. 6, 2021. Photo credit: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

The youth wings of Norway's main political parties have signed a letter calling for the country to rescind its normalization agreement with China and stop free trade negotiations due to China's human rights violations.

The big picture: Amid growing global awareness that close economic ties with China can have a chilling effect on free speech, opposition to China's Uyghur genocide is gaining momentum in Norway, where some politicians are fearful of jeopardizing ties with Beijing.

Biden holds first call as president with China's Xi Jinping

Biden and Xi in 2012, when both were serving as vice president. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty

President Biden on Wednesday evening held his first call with Chinese President Xi Jinping since taking office, raising thorny issues including human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The big picture: Ahead of the call, senior administration officials offered reporters the most detailed portrait to date of Biden’s policies toward China, and how they will build on — and diverge from — Donald Trump’s approach.

Biden announces new Pentagon task force on China

Biden at the Pentagon, being introduced by Sec. Lloyd Austin. Photo;Alex Brandon/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty

President Biden used a visit to the Pentagon on Wednesday to announce a new department-wide task force to "chart a strong path forward on China-related matters."

Why it matters: Biden is emphasizing early in his tenure that China will be a top priority.