The Biden administration is condemning China after Beijing banned BBC World News from airing in China.
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The Chinese government has criticized recent BBC reports on the COVID-19 pandemic in China and on allegations of forced labor and sexual abuse in the Xinjiang region, home to the Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups.
Beijing’s action comes one week after threatening to retaliate for the recent revocation of the British broadcasting license for China’s state-owned CGTN.
“We absolutely condemn the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) decision to ban BBC World News,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
“The PRC maintains one of the most controlled, most oppressive, least free information spaces in the world,” he said.
“It’s troubling that as the PRC restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China, Beijing’s leaders use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinformation.”
The BBC already is generally not viewable in China outside of some hotels, businesses and residential compounds for foreigners. It wasn’t immediately clear if the ban would affect reception in those facilities.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the move “an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom” that would “only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world.”
President Biden had his first call as president with Xi Jinping Wednesday and pressed the Chinese leader about trade and Beijing’s crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong as well as other human rights concerns.
Thursday, the State Department renewed its call for Beijing to condemn the coup that took place in Myanmar less than two weeks ago.
Price repeated the U.S. position that China to allow the WHO to conduct its inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 without restrictions.
Price also voiced the State Department’s condemnation of Russia for imposting a seven-and-a-half year sentence on Alexander Ivashin, the latest Jehovah’s Witness to be sentenced to prison.
“The United States condemns Russia’s continued crackdown on Jehovah’s Witnesses and other peaceful religious minorities in the strongest possible terms,” he said.