“We must oppose the broadcast ban against CGTN, not only for reasons such as freedom of speech, but also because such bans are very dangerous in the context of the new cold war.” Luo Siyi, an English scholar who participated in the organization of open letters, said.
On March 9, 16 celebrities, including Oscar-winning directors and internationally renowned journalists, issued an open letter calling on the British Communications Agency’s largest and oldest left-wing newspaper, The Morning Star and the official website of the “Reject the New Cold War” initiative. om) to restore the broadcasting license of China International Television (CGTN) in the United Kingdom. On February 4 this year, Ofcom revoked its broadcasting license in the UK on the pretext that CGTN has “political attributes”, which was condemned by many parties and strongly opposed by China. This open letter is the first time that international people have jointly launched a high-profile support for CGTN.
On the day of the release of the open letter, Liu Xin, anchor of CGTN, interviewed Ben Chacko, editor-in-chief of the Morning Star, who participated in the co-signature of the open letter, and John Ross, a researcher at the Chungyang Institute of Finance of Renmin University of China and one of the initiators of the “Rejecting the New Cold War” initiative. The following is a drawdown of the content of the exclusive interview.
Listening to the partial belief is endless.
Liu Xin: Why do you want to sign an open letter?
Sima Ben: I’d be happy to sign the open letter. I don’t think the British CGTN is an isolated event. In fact, the British media has been dominated by the views of the authorities, most of which are controlled by the state capital or wealthy individuals behind the BBC. This means that the views accessible to ordinary people are very limited and narrow.
Luo Siyi: It is dangerous to ban CGTN. It doesn’t really affect China, but it will affect Britain. I know that there are a lot of misunderstandings about China in the American media and British media, so it is essential to let people hear voices from China. It’s no secret that CGTN is the national media, and so is the BBC. People will certainly consider it when watching the programs on these channels. But China is a big country, and it is very dangerous to judge sources that reflect China’s views.
The political background of the mainstream media in the UK
Liu Xin: There is a saying in the open letter: “A lot of private and state-owned television channels have a clear political agenda or are under political control. The BBC itself is an example. Although all BBC employees must be subject to MI5 censorship, its broadcasting licenses have never been revoked.” Why do you point it out?
Sima Ben: This is very important. The British government is trying to create the illusion that the BBC is an independent broadcaster without any political position. Theoretically, the BBC should remain politically neutral. But the scandal between the BBC and the British MI5 has a long history, and BBC employees must be censored from the early days. In particular, in the 1940s, there was a “red” panic within the BBC. People accused of being communists or sympathetic to the Communist Party were blacklisted and not allowed to work for the BBC, which continued into the 1990s. So this letter debunked the political attributes of the BBC. In addition to the BBC, many private media in Britain are behind rich tycoons, all of which are extremely political.
Liu Xin: Overseas social platforms will label non-Western official media and media people. Is the logic behind it the same as the selective ban on CGTN?
Luo Siyi: Yes, whenever CGTN reporters appear on Twitter, they always label Chinese official media or similar labels, but BBC people do not have such labels on Twitter. For another example, people who work for Murdoch News Group will not be labeled to say that they represent Murdoch News Group. This is naked hypocrisy.
△CGTN anchor Liu Xin’s homepage has been labeled as “China’s official media” by Twitter. ( Screenshot of Twitter)
The “new cold war” rises, and Britain saddles the United States.
Liu Xin: The original intention of the “Reject the New Cold War” initiative was to resist the increasingly offensive remarks and behaviors of the U.S. government against China. What role does the British government and media play in this process?
Sima Ben: So far, unfortunately, Britain is a loyal supporter of the “New Cold War”. At present, the British Parliament and politicians completely follow the U.S. position on China. Not only within the government, but also the opposition Labor Party’s position on China is very radical, which is dangerous. It is an open secret that the United Kingdom cancels Huawei’s contract to develop 5G in the United Kingdom, which is actually to follow the instructions of the United States. In my impression, there is a leaked information that the United Kingdom promised Huawei that as long as Washington changes its mind, they will change accordingly. Britain has always been America’s closest ally, including in some of the United States’s overseas aggressive operations. We now have signs of going all the way to darkness in this direction.
Liu Xin: Can the threat of the new cold war be seen? How much potential impact does it have on us?
Luo Siyi: We have indeed felt the impact of the new cold war. One of the reasons is that Western media is becoming more and more censored. There have been many reporters who have objectively reported on China, some of which I agree with, and some of which I disagree. In the past, their articles were often published in the mainstream media, but now they have disappeared. Their views are blocked because the investigative agencies are conducting a series of censorships on them, which is a fatal threat to the career development of any journalist, which is why celebrities must sign the open letter.
This also brings about the problem that people are more likely to misjudge the situation. Historically, false news has led to catastrophic wars. Some people believe that the false news triggered the Vietnam War, which claimed that Vietnamese ships attacked American warships in the Beibu Gulf region. The same is true of the Iraq war, when it was reported that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In fact, both are false news. If we can’t understand other different views, the probability of another catastrophic event such as the Vietnam War and the Iraq War will be greatly increased. The ban against CGTN is part of the new cold war.
British media alone can’t understand China
Liu Xin: Some people will ask, is it not enough for the British people to rely on foreign journalists to report on China alone?
Luo Siyi: This is funny. Several recent reports have perfectly revealed how the British media distorted the facts. For example, they found that the so-called prison is actually a factory, the so-called prison guard, and so on are actually the security of the factory, and so on are full of biased views.
Take the BBC again as an example. Everyone knows that every employee of the BBC, except cleaners, has been subject to censorship by military intelligence. Do you think the employees selected in this way can give you an impartial opinion, or represent the views of the British government?
Liu Xin: You have studied and lived in China for several years. How much do you know about the gap between China and foreign media?
Sima Ben: The British are still ignorant of China, whether it is Chinese politics, public opinion, or Chinese lifestyle. People don’t know that China is developing rapidly, that China’s poverty reduction efforts have brought about great changes, how developed China is, and another typical example is the coronavirus epidemic.
In the winter of 2019, British society generally speculated that the epidemic in China could not happen in the United Kingdom, which made the position of the British government and the US government very arrogant. They ignored China’s warning about the virus and made no preparations. And when the virus really hit our country, thousands of people died of government laziness.
There is another view that the Chinese are “unfree” and “brainwashed”. I have lived in China for several years, and my impression is completely different. Chinese people are well-informed and highly politically active. My Chinese friends have many clear views and will not hesitate to share them with me. So I think we are still very ignorant about China.
Tell the truth but lose your job?
Liu Xin: Will signing this open letter bring pressure, or even lead to the loss of work or a platform to speak out?
Sima Ben: There is a danger of losing the platform. Media like the BBC would have invited reporters from The Morning Star to the show a few years ago, but now there are few. The reality is that the trend of opposition to voices is becoming more and more serious. If people ignore the ban on CGTN, other media, including the Morning Star, will also be increasingly threatened, because this ideology (prohibiting different voices) has become more and more normalized and may occur in any media. Body.
Luo Siyi: This also explains why the signer of this letter must have greater influence. For example, Oliver Stone, who won the three Oscars, can’t be ignored by the media, and the film and television industry can’t kick him out. For example, John Pilger, who has won the British Journalist of the Year Award twice and is the most outstanding journalist in the West. One, but if only an ordinary journalist signs this open letter, his career may be ruined.