The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued its own complaint against the BBC late Thursday, shortly after the Ofcom decision was released, saying it “reserved the right to take further action” against the British broadcaster.
The ministry said on its website that a report aired by the BBC late last month about China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was “fake news” that, among other things, falsely depicted footage of a Chinese antiterrorism exercise as brutal pandemic control measures. The statement said the BBC should “stop maliciously maligning and attacking China, and abide by professional morals.”
The move by Ofcom was a signal that Britain is aligning itself with the United States as both countries’ relations with China deteriorate, said Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat and an associate fellow at Chatham House, a British research institute.
Both countries have feuded with China over media issues.
The Trump administration declared Chinese news agencies like CGTN operatives of the Chinese state, limiting the number of employees they could have. China in turn expelled American journalists working for several outlets, including The New York Times.
In Britain, although CGTN did not have a wide audience, the outlet enjoyed freedoms accorded to all media in Britain. British media in China, however, have faced barriers to their reporting for many years, said Mr. Brown. “It’s an expression of reciprocity,” he said, although “it will be seen in China as a hostile move.”
The decision was “historically significant,” and “justice is finally served,” said Simon Cheng, a former employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong who said Chinese security officers tortured him in 2019 and forced him to confess to soliciting prostitution.
Mr. Cheng, who was given asylum in Britain last year, filed a complaint with Ofcom after CGTN published the confession on its website. “It is clear that the mouthpiece of CCP totalitarian regime will no longer have a foothold in the U.K.,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook.