Joint webinar with BBC World Service on media freedom issues in China
On 24 March, BGIPU and the BBC World Service co-hosted a webinar on media freedom issues in China and Hong Kong. The meeting was attended by UK Members of Parliament, representatives from civil society organisations and journalists. Alex Sobel MP, BGIPU Treasurer and Opposition DCMS Minister chaired the meeting. He was joined by acting Director of International Services, Mary Hockaday, Editor of BBC Chinese, Howard Zhang, BBC Monitoring Senior Journalist, Kerry Allen, and Media Freedom APPG Chair, Damian Collins MP.
Mary Hockaday began the presentations with an overview of media developments in China and Hong Kong and explained how this new landscape has impacted the BBC’s ability to operate there. She noted that the BBC has been blocked from broadcasting many of its services in China for many years, but the increased scrutiny of its journalism and banning of World News in China and the World Service in Hong Kong is a recent development.
Howard Zhang followed with a discussion on China’s long-term strategic foreign policy goals and its use of soft power to achieve them. Kerry Allen then gave her insights on reactions in Chinese media and explained that events like the Hong Kong riots have resulted in a tightening on freedom of the media. Damian Collins MP closed the presentations by summarising how a degradation of media freedoms can be seen all over the world and emphasised the role civil society groups and all-party groups such as the Media Freedom APPG have in shining a light on cases and working towards policies which nurture free and impartial reporting.
This well-attended webinar was informative and sparked interesting discussion during the Q&A. Speakers and participants agreed on the importance of independent and accurate public service reporting, and the need for the BBC to continue to deliver high quality, accurate journalism despite the challenges it currently faces.