China summons British ambassador over ‘inappropriate’ article

Beijing, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- Beijing has summoned Britain’s ambassador to China over an “inappropriate” article in which the diplomat defended international press coverage of the Asian country.

In a statement issued on Tuesday night, the Chinese foreign ministry said that it had summoned Caroline Wilson to lodge “solemn representations” over the publication of the article on the official account of the British Embassy on WeChat, the most popular social media and messaging app in China.

According to the Chinese foreign ministry, Wilson “used the official platform to express grievances for individual foreign media which have been sanctioned for false reports, deliberately confusing news defamation with news supervision, as well as turning a blind eye when Chinese media are oppressed by foreign side,” state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

“The whole article was full of ‘lecturer’ arrogance and ideological bias … which is seriously inconsistent with the status of diplomats and the functions of diplomatic institutions,” the report said..

The ministry emphasized that the Chinese government and people have never opposed foreign media, but rather “fake news and malicious attacks on China, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese system in the name of ‘press freedom’ and ‘speech freedom,'” Xinhua added.

In her article, Wilson said that the behavior of foreign media in China is independent and added that those criticizing the Chinese authorities did not mean that they did not like China but were in fact acting in “good faith” and playing an active role in monitoring the government’s actions, ensuring that people have access to accurate information and protecting those without a voice.

The article provides a series of examples in which the British media contributed to the correction of bad practices by citizens in different fields in the United Kingdom, while also praising the work of some Chinese media, for example more than 30 Caixin reporters over their coverage of the early stages of the pandemic in Wuhan.

Wilson said the critical reports by Caixin reporters were not viewed as evidence of their hatred of Wuhan and even China but praised for their role in identifying problems and holding accountability.

Relations between China and the UK have deteriorated as a result of recent developments in Hong Kong, where Beijing has tightened control and restricted the options of the pro-democracy opposition since last year.

Last month, Chinese authorities blocked national broadcasts of British channel BBC World News over claims it is not impartial and truthful.

The Chinese authorities’ decision came a week after British media regulator Ofcom announced it would revoke the license of state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN) to broadcast in the UK.

In a report published last week, the Foreign Correspondents Club in China said that in 2020, Beijing “canceled press credentials and refused to renew visas, resulting in the largest expulsion of foreign journalists since the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre more than three decades ago.” EFE-EPA


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