The Biden administration also weighed in. “We absolutely condemn the P.R.C.’s decision to ban BBC World News,” Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, told a news briefing in Washington, using the shorthand for the People’s Republic of China. “It’s troubling that as the P.R.C. restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China, Beijing’s leaders use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinformation.”
The latest ban also rippled into Hong Kong, the former British colony where Beijing has tightened its grip. The territory’s public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, or RTHK, announced that it would stop relaying the BBC World Service, a radio news provider, starting from Friday. RTHK, a government-funded news organization, has long broadcast that service every day, from late at night until morning.
Broadcasts by services like the BBC and CNN are already censored in China. When reports about China come up, censors regularly block the segments, leaving viewers with silent, dark screens. The channel had already gone dark on Thursday, according to two Reuters journalists in China.
This month, Britain’s broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, revoked the license for CGTN, the international news channel owned by China’s main state broadcaster.
Ofcom said it withdrew the license because CGTN’s license holder, Star China Media Limited, did not exercise the effective oversight of the network’s programming that British law requires. The regulator also said the network failed to put in place a promised restructuring to solve the licensing impasse, and it cited CGTN’s well-documented control by the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda apparatus.
The Chinese foreign ministry and CGTN denounced the British decision as a hypocritical attempt to suppress China’s views. The decision reflected “anti-China sentiment and the right-wing ideologies” in Britain, CGTN said in an article on its website.
A spokesman for the foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin, told a news conference in Beijing last week that the decision exuded “brazen double standards and political bullying.”