Chinese Embassy tried to stop tonight’s Foreign Correspondent from going to air. The ABC will be running the programme from 8pm on ABC 1
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) September 30, 2014
Australia’s national public broadcasterreceived warnings from the Chinese embassy that the airing of a report by China correspondent Stephen McDonnell on Beijing’s escalating terror crackdown in Xinjiang could strain diplomatic relations between the two countries. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
The report, which is due to air on the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program on Tuesday night, deals with the Chinese government’s increasingly harsh crackdown on the Uighurs, a small Muslim community in the far-western province of Xinjiang.
[…] A fortnight ago, while McDonell was returning to Beijing after filming in Xinjiang, the Chinese embassy in Canberra contacted the ABC’s managing director, Mark Scott, to express their concerns about the program. They requested it not be aired.
Foreign Correspondent’s executive producer, Steve Taylor, said that “such was their intelligence gathering that they [embassy officials] made overtures to the ABC while the assignment was still under way”.
Following the letter to Mr Scott, two senior officials from the Chinese embassy in Canberra had an hour-long meeting with the ABC’s director of communications, Michael Millett.
“They made their views clear that they didn’t want the program shown … suffice to say we will be showing the program,” Mr Millett told Fairfax Media.
ABC sources claim that, during the meeting, the Chinese officials said that if the program was aired, the ramifications would be wider than just a stoush with the national broadcaster. [Source]
ABC’s coverage of the terror crackdown in China can be seen on the Foreign Correspondent website.
China received international criticism last week after Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment—an unexpectedly harsh sentence for a man many viewed as a moderate voice encouraging peace in Xinjiang by interethnic dialogue. Commentators have argues that the harsh sentencing could fuel more Uyghur radicalism.