On 11 February, China banned the BBC from broadcasting in the country, in connection with its reporting about Xinjiang and about the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the latest move by China restricting freedom of expression and access to information inside its borders, following on from numerous expulsions of foreign journalists in 2020. The EU has also repeatedly spoken out on cases of intimidation and surveillance of journalists and media workers in China.
Another consequence of the Chinese authorities’ decision is that the Hong Kong public broadcaster has announced that it will cease relaying BBC World Service radio and BBC News Weekly, thereby further adding to the erosion of the rights and freedoms that is ongoing in the territory, following the imposition of the National Security Law in June 2020. This also illustrates the reduction of Hong Kong’s autonomy within the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.
The EU recalls that, according to Article 35 of the PRC Constitution citizens shall enjoy freedom of speech and of the press, and that according to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. The decision to ban the BBC should be reversed.
The EU remains strongly committed to safeguarding media freedom and pluralism, as well as protecting the right to freedom of expression online and offline, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference of any kind.