Hong Kong Politics & Protest

UK regulator investigates Chinese broadcaster over programme on arrest of UK consular worker

Britain’s broadcasting watchdog on Thursday said it was looking into a complaint about a programme on Chinese television on the arrest of a former UK consular staffer in Hong Kong.

“We have received a complaint about a programme broadcast on CGTN which we are assessing as a priority,” Ofcom said in a brief statement.

Simon Cheng confession people's daily

Photo: People’s Daily screenshot.

The regulator’s investigation came after a human rights group, Safeguard Defenders, said Simon Cheng had lodged a complaint against the China Global Television Network, which hold a licence to broadcast in Britain.

The group said state-run CGTN, the global arm of China Central Television, aired an item including “direct lies, violations of his privacy and unproven allegations reported as facts”.

Cheng is a Hong Kong citizen who worked at the UK consulate in the city.

He alleged last week that Chinese secret police tortured and interrogated him on the mainland for 15 days about London’s role in months of protests that have rocked Hong Kong.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab summoned China’s ambassador to London to demand an explanation.

Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab. Photo: GovUK.

Raab said the “disgraceful” and “outrageous behaviour from the authorities in China” had violated international law.

Chinese police then published a video on the Twitter-like platform Weibo purporting to show Cheng confessing to soliciting prostitutes.

He has denied the claim and said he was forced into making a statement.

The apparent confession was then published by a state-owned newspaper and later on CGTN, Cheng said in the complaint to Ofcom, published on Safeguard Defenders’ website.

“The broadcast was issued in direct response to my interviews with UK media and other international media, with the intention of painting the process of my mistreatment as legal,” he added.

“The broadcast not only violates numerous regulations under the Broadcasting Code, but also includes direct and easily proven lies.”


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UK regulator investigates Chinese broadcaster over programme on arrest of UK consular worker