Earlier this week, the BBC World News network was banned from broadcasting in Chinese to the mainland. Allegedly, this ban is due to “a slew of falsified reporting on issues including Xinjiang and China’s handling of Covid 19″ to “send a clear signal that fake news is not tolerated in China.” Naturally, after reporting on a viral pandemic that originated in Wuhan province in 2019, so well over a year ago, now is the time for China to strike back at so-called fake news surrounding the pandemic. I cannot imagine what specific news story was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Perhaps the BBC reporting on the Europa Clipper finally getting a launch date – its mission being to study a moon in the hopes of finding ET.
Of course, this move obviously has nothing to do with the China Global Television Network having its licence to broadcast in the UK being revoked by Ofcom the week before. This was an entirely predictable thing to happen, the only surprise is that it had not happened earlier. After all, given that the Chinese regime controls the media in China, that CGTN is part of the government’s propaganda arm and that British law prevents political organisations controlling holders of a broadcasting licence it was surely only a matter of time before a step like this was taken.
Perhaps the only reason that it had not already happened was that previous governments have clearly been trying to appease China and had been putting pressure on the independent regulatory body. Maybe Ofcom had simply finally wised up in recent years, and has recognised that TV companies like Russia Today, CGTN and Iran’s Press TV should not be broadcasting in the UK due to their clear nature as parts of the propaganda machinery of their respective governments.
I hope that the government is taking note of Ofcom’s stance. After all, it has several important decisions to be making. Perhaps it will reconsider its position on the genocide clause in its trade bill. It was truly shameful that the government used parliamentary procedure to avoid a vote on a plan to give British courts the right to decide if a country is committing genocide. Senior members of the Lords have already signalled their intent to reinsert the clause and I hope that the government takes note of the support for this position.
We all know that China’s treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang is abhorrent and many believe that it has already passed the threshold to genocide. Indeed, there has already been the legal opinion from senior barristers at Essex Court Chambers saying there is a “very credible case” for China’s treatment of Uighurs being called genocide. Campaigners and Parliamentarians
When President Biden is not really taking a position on this as he is too busy talking about how China is “going to eat our lunch”, at least one government needs to make a stand.
Now is the time for UK to take a strong stance on human rights and demonstrate the values of our new post-Brexit trade policy. Nusrat Ghani MP has the right of this: the UK should not be “using its newfound post-Brexit freedoms to trade with states which commit and profit from genocide…Britain is better than that.”