China Bans BBC World News, Hinting At Coverage Of Uyghur Camps As Reason For Media Tit-For-Tat

BBC World News has been banned from airing in China, per a statement from China's National Radio and Television Administration released on Thursday.

Many foreign policy pundits are calling the move a tit-for-tat as the ban comes just one week after Ofcom, the British media regulator, canceled China Global Television Network in the United Kingdom. Ofcom cited the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the network as the reason behind the decision, per Axios.

Though many politicos are calling the move retaliatory, China's NRTA overtly claimed that the well-regarded media outlet had broadcast had not met the "requirements that news reporting must be true and impartial." In addition, it stated that the BBC had "undermined China's national interests and ethnic solidarity."

Some have suggested that the embargo was also due to a recent investigative report by the news outlet on the ethnic Uyghur minority. In the report, the BBC alleged that Uyghur women had been tortured, detained, and subjected to forced sterilization while in the re-education camps. One person who was interviewed even claimed that some women who were taken away from their cells at night never returned. The Chinese government has vehemently denied the allegations in the article.

That said, the ban has little impact on most Chinese civilians.

"The general public in China was never allowed access. Even with such a limited distribution, BBC reports on China were often censored," noted Jo Floto, editor of BBC World Service's Newshour.

Floto added that most viewership came from hotels and a "small" number of residential compounds.

However, it does signal China's simmering tensions with the United Kingdom. The relationship between the two nations has soured over the past year, in part due to the novel coronavirus pandemic but mostly due to the U.K.'s recent policy that opens a pathway to citizenship for Hong Kong residents. China has embarked on a series of crackdowns that have reduced the autonomy of the former British colony, causing many residents to flee the special administrative region.

A Chinese flag waves outside a building.
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Meanwhile, the BBC has released a statement on its ban.

"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 favor," a spokesperson said.

China has recently captured headlines following the WHO's investigation into the origin of COVID-19. As covered by The Inquisitr, family members of those who died of the coronavirus in Wuhan have accused party officials of intimidating them into silence during the international inspection.