Beijing blocks BBC’s China Week coverage

Associated Press

Beijing, March 11:

The British Broadcasting Corp’s China Week didn’t sit well with Chinese censors. Transmissions of the BBC World channel’s week-long series of China-themed programmes to hotels and apartment compounds for foreigners were repeatedly blocked today during reports on politics and other sensitive issues. A story about the restive Muslim Uighur ethnic group in China’s far west was cut off after just seconds. The screen went black after a BBC correspondent said, “But the Uighur people have little affection for their Chinese masters.”

China allows transmissions of foreign channels such as BBC World — the BBC’s international television channel — and other foreign channels to hotels and apartment compounds for foreigners. But the broadcasts are closely monitored, and reports on politics, religion and other sensitive issues are routinely blacked out. The BBC World and other foreign channels are not licensed for cable distribution to ordinary Chinese, but millions of households with unlicensed satellite dishes can view them.

The Uighur issue is especially touchy, as some members of the minority group are waging a low-intensity struggled against Chinese control. China claims the violence is linked to Al Qaeda terrorism network, though outside experts are skeptical. The BBC’s Web site describes China Week as “a themed series of news reports and programmes exploring one of the world’s most dynamic countries.” The March 7-13 programmes also are carried on BBC World Service radio. They feature more than 60 journalists reporting from different cities.