The British ambassador to Beijing has come under attack by Chinese state media after she posted on social media an independent press’s watchdog role holding governments and organizations to account.
Caroline Wilson cited examples where scrutiny of the British press has brought about positive change, including the Telegraph’s 2009 investigation into MPs’ expense claims that led to parliamentary reform, while a report BBC revealed in 2019 how patients in a nursing home were being abused by staff.
She added that when the foreign media turns a watchdog on China, it is a “good faith” effort to make sure people have access to information and to support those “who don’t. have no say in the matter ”.
But several articles in the Chinese state media accused her of not understanding China and claimed that the foreign media were “waging an ideological propaganda war against the Chinese political system.”
Ms Wilson, who was appointed Ambassador last September, was previously stationed at the British Embassy in Beijing before serving as Consul General in Hong Kong and speaks Mandarin.
Chinese state media said Wilson had yet to learn “how intrusive some Western media are in China.”
Foreign journalists are increasingly threatened, harassed and monitored by many parts of the Chinese state.
Foreign journalists have been kicked out for covering stories Chinese authorities disliked, assaulted while working and threatened with long-term detention, according to a recent report from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.
The attacks on Ms Wilson are part of a wider Chinese campaign that has escalated against the UK, denouncing UK officials through the Foreign Office in Beijing, the Embassy in London and in media outlets in ‘Chinese state.
The two nations have clashed over espionage issues and human rights abuses, especially in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
Beijing Foreign Ministry rejected Foreign Minister Dominic Raab’s speech to the UN Human Rights Council last week, urging its members to tackle China’s abuses against the minority ethnic Uyghur.
Instead, a Chinese government spokesperson claimed that the accounts of human rights violations against Uyghurs were “rumors and lies fabricated by anti-Chinese forces.”
Then on Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in London warned that the UK was “going further down the wrong track” after Mr Raab issued a statement on 47 Hong Kong politicians and activists indicted this week under ‘a radical national security law.
“This demonstrates in the most cruel way the use of the law to quell political dissent, rather than to restore the security which was the claimed intention of the legislation,” said Mr. Raab.
Chinese state media continued to point to the BBC with severe criticism after UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom revoked the license granted to Chinese state broadcaster CGTN to broadcast programs in the UK.
Ofcom announced earlier this month that it would revoke CGTN’s license because the organization was “ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party”, in violation of UK broadcasting rules that require media to exercise control. editorial on broadcast programs and prevent them from being controlled by political bodies.
Beijing responded by banning the BBC in China, although in practice the network was only available as a pay channel in some hotels and homes. Censors are blocking the broadcast of BBC stories in China that go against the official propaganda narrative, for example, reporting on human rights violations.
The Chinese Embassy in London and the Foreign Ministry in Beijing routinely reprimand the Telegraph and other British media outlets for covering China which authorities deem unfavorable.