BEIJING (CHINA) – In an escalating diplomatic dispute, the BBC came under fire from Chinese official and social media on Friday after Britain’s media regulator revoked the TV licence of Chinese state media outlet CGTN.
On Thursday, Britain’s Ofcom revoked the license of CGTN, the English-language sister channel of state broadcaster CCTV, after concluding that China’s ruling Communist Party had ultimate editorial responsibility for the channel.
Minutes later, China’s foreign ministry issued a statement accusing the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) of pushing “fake news” in its COVID-19 reporting, demanding an apology and saying that the broadcaster had politicized the pandemic and “rehashed theories about covering up by China”.
The BBC said its reporting is fair and unbiased.
Britain and China have been at logger heads for months over China’s crackdown on Hong Kong. In recent weeks China’s state media ramped up attacks on what it calls biased reporting by the British public broadcaster on topics ranging from the coronavirus to Xinjiang and the former British colony of Hong Kong.
The foreign ministry’s criticism of the BBC was among the top trends on China’s Weibo social media platform on Friday.
“BBC shall not become Bad-mouthing Broadcasting Corporation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Twitter.
Some people called for the BBC to be expelled in response to CGTN’s license being revoked.
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 subject to rape and torture. China’s foreign ministry said the report had no factual basis.
“The BBC has long been stationed in Beijing, yet has always held ideological prejudice and broadcast fake news from its platform, deliberately defaming China. After so many years, it’s past time that we took action,” one Weibo user said.