A cash-for-propaganda deal between the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Chinese tech giant Huawei was revealed by the UK-based publication The Spectator.
Steerpike, The Spectator’s gossip columnist in an article said that amid budget cuts and the licence fee future looking uncertain, the BBC developed some questionable new corporate partnerships.
One of them is with Huawei, the Chinese tech giant which was sanctioned by the US in 2019 and barred from the UK’s 5G network in 2020 over security concerns, said Steerpike.
BBC recently ran into controversy in India over its two-part documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ on the role of then Chief Minister of Gujarat and now Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in the 2002 Godhra riots.
The Indian government has criticised the BBC documentary. Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said it lacked objectivity and was “propaganda”.
Moreover, Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Jethmalani and senior advocate of the Supreme Court said that BBC received money from Chinese tech giant Huawei to fund its overseas journalism endeavours stirring a major controversy.
“Why is BBC so anti-India? Because it needs money desperately enough to take it from Chinese state-linked Huawei (see link) & pursue the latter’s agenda (BBC a fellow traveller, Comrade Jairam?) It’s a simple cash-for-propaganda deal. BBC is up for sale,” tweeted Jethmalani.
He also took a dig at the BBC for publishing a truncated map of India without showing Jammu & Kashmir as part of the country.
“Apart from publishing a truncated map of India w/o J&K until 2021 when it apologised to the Indian govt & corrected the map, #BBC has a long history of spreading disinformation against India. The anti-PM documentary is a continuation of this malafide trend,” he tweeted.
Moreover, after the deal with Huawei, BBC has alleged to have aided the Chinese authorities in creating surveillance technology that targets the country’s Uyghur minority population, reported The Spectator.
BBC is still taking Huawei’s money to fund its overseas journalism. A current employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Steerpike that they were ‘shocked’ that the BBC was still taking money from a company with such close ties to the Chinese state ‘when it was us (the Corporation) who exposed the Chinese abuse in Uyghur camps last year.’
Also, adverts displayed on BBC.com this week show ads paid and presented by Huawei boasting about ‘The new frontier of education: How can we bridge the education gap and bring bright young minds into the digital future?’
The adverts gush about how ‘UNESCO and Huawei are focused on closing the digital divide’ and write glowingly about Huawei’s tech initiatives.
Such content though is only available to overseas readers as UK visitors to the site are greeted with a message which says ‘We’re Sorry! This site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee,’ reported The Spectator.
A BBC Studios spokesman said: ‘Outside of the UK, BBC.com – the BBC’s international news and sports website – is funded through advertising. This allows us to invest in our world-class journalism and bring it to a global audience. All commercial content must adhere to our advertising and sponsorship guidelines, which are publicly available.’
The Corporation did not respond to further questions and refused to say how much money it has made from the partnership with Huawei, reported The Spectator.
A series of marketing presentation slides reviewed by the Washington Post last December found Huawei had a role in developing surveillance projects created in partnership with other Chinese companies.
They included analysis of voice recordings, monitoring detention centres, tracking locations of political individuals of interest, police surveillance in the western Xinjiang region, and corporate tracking of employees and customers.
Huawei said it had no knowledge of the projects mentioned in the Post report. The telecom giant has repeatedly denied that it is controlled or linked to the Chinese regime.