© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People arrive and leave Broadcasting House, the BBC’s London headquarters.
By Gabriel Crossley BEIJING (Reuters) – The BBC came under fire from Chinese officials and social media on Friday in a growing diplomatic row, a day after the British media regulator revoked the television license of Chinese state media CGTN. Britain and China have been exchanging criticism for months on China’s crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong, concerns over the security of Huawei’s technology and the treatment of ethnic Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region. Britain’s Ofcom on Thursday revoked the license of CGTN, the English-language sister channel of state broadcaster CCTV, after concluding that the ruling Communist Party of China had ultimate editorial responsibility for the channel. Minutes later, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) of promoting “fake news” in its COVID-19 reports, demanding an apology and saying that the broadcaster had politicized the pandemic and “rehashed theories about cover-up by China.” The BBC said its reports are fair and impartial. Separately on Thursday, the British newspaper Telegraph reported that Britain had last year expelled three Chinese spies who were there on journalism visas. In recent weeks, China’s state media has stepped up attacks on what it calls biased reporting by the British public broadcaster on topics ranging from the coronavirus to Xinjiang to the former British colony of Hong Kong. “I suspect that the BBC has been closely instigated by the intelligence agencies of the United States and the United Kingdom. It has become a bastion of the Western public opinion’s war against China,” said Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Party. Communist. tabloid endorsed by the Global Times, said on Twitter. Foreign ministry criticism of the BBC was among the top trends on China’s Weibo (NASDAQ 🙂 social media platform on Friday. “The BBC will not become a bad-mouth broadcasting corporation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Twitter. BBC broadcasts, like those of most major Western media outlets, are blocked in China. Some people called for the BBC to be expelled in response to the revocation of CGTN’s license. “The BBC has long been stationed in Beijing, but it has always been ideologically biased and broadcast fake news from its platform, deliberately smearing China. After so many years, it is time for us to act,” said a Weibo user. The BBC’s coverage of Xinjiang came under heavy criticism after it reported on Wednesday that women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in the region were subjected to rape and torture. China’s Foreign Ministry said the report did not have a factual basis. The Global Times said in an editorial on Friday that the BBC had “gravely violated journalistic ethics.”