China’s Tit for Britain’s Tat: BBC Boss Hits Back

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The head of the BBC warns of ‘growing global threat to free media’ as he criticized China for blocking its news coverage after the broadcaster’s World News service was banned in China and Hong Kong.

“Things are heating up and the Chinese are gaining confidence”

A Pakistani defense analyst

China announced a ban Friday on the broadcast of BBC World News over “serious content violations”, accusing the service of violating requirements to be true and impartial. The National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) also said the broadcaster had undermined China’s national interests and “ethnic solidarity”.

Although the Chinese and Hong Kong regulators have complained that BBC World TV channel broadcast factually inaccurate content regarding China – without mentioning the Government’s very tough treatment of Xinjiang’s Muslim residents – “my impression is that the decision to bar the BBC World TV was more in response to the UK Government’s recent decision to cancel the license of CGTN on the ground that CGTN is linked to the Communist Party of China (CPC)”. “So, in a way, this was China’s tit for Britain’s tat,” says an Asia-Pacific based defense and security analyst who has worked at BBC for more than 23 years.

According to The Guardian, the decision to strip “China’s state broadcaster” of its UK license on Thursday appeared to mark a tit-for-tat response.

The director general of BBC, Tim Davie, said “media freedom matters”…the BBC “should be able to do its reporting without fear or favor.”

Davie warned of “significant and growing global threats to the free media”, in a statement posted on Twitter, adding that some countries were trying to “increase their control of information.”

He said, “in these difficult times when misinformation is rife, we have seen growing audiences for trusted news sources – including hundreds of millions coming to the BBC.”

A leading Gulf Analyst said he is against any form of censorship. “And the BBC decision was hasty. However, the Chinese are not so innocent themselves,” he said. “They have totally blocked any reporting on the inhumane treatment of the Uighurs. The genocide there continues.”

In his view, China, which is “a Super Power, should not be afraid of the media.” However, he noted that media constraints have increased all over the world. “In the Arab world too media dissent is met with severe action,” he said.

According to a Pakistani China observer, “Things are heating up and the Chinese are gaining confidence”… as the “Brits will be in hot waters after parting ways with EU,” he says.

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