BBC’s John Sudworth Leaves China, Citing Growing Risks

At times, the propaganda campaign zeroed in on Mr. Sudworth, a longtime BBC correspondent who won a George Polk Award last year for his reporting on the internment camps in Xinjiang. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said on Wednesday that Chinese state media had posted videos of Mr. Sudworth online using footage obtained from police cameras.

Last month, The Global Times, a state-backed nationalist tabloid, published a widely circulated article attacking Mr. Sudworth for his Xinjiang reporting and accusing him of being an “anti-China” journalist backed by “foreign forces,” including the United States.

“In the past few years, the BBC and their China correspondent, John Sudworth, have been doing their best to demonize China as a cruel country without human rights by distorting the situation in Xinjiang,” said the article. “But today, their ‘crazy’ distortions have been exposed — the truth is that they are the clowns who violate human rights.”

Before the recent propaganda campaign, Mr. Sudworth had been repeatedly issued shortened journalist visas of as little as one month for nearly three years, part of an ongoing effort by the Chinese government to punish news organizations for coverage it perceives to be overly critical. Most resident foreign journalists are typically granted one-year visas.

In September, two Australian journalists fled China following a five-day diplomatic standoff that began when Chinese state security officers paid them unannounced visits, prompting fears that they would be detained. Australian news outlets now no longer have any correspondents on the ground in China at a time of fast-deteriorating relations between the two countries.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, whose members include many journalists working there, voiced concerns on Wednesday about the “increasing frequency of erroneous claims by Chinese state and state-controlled entities that foreign correspondents and their organizations are motivated by anti-China political forces to produce coverage that runs counter to the Communist Party’s official line.”

“Alarmingly, Chinese authorities have also shown a greater willingness to threaten journalists with legal measures, proceedings that could subject them to exit bans, barring them from leaving China,” the club added.

Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting.

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U.K. Government, Sensing an Opportunity, Wraps Itself in the Flag

LONDON — It started last week when the host of the BBC’s morning show mocked a cabinet minister, Robert Jenrick, for the Union Jack hanging conspicuously behind him, next to a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The flag, the host cracked, was not “up to standard-size government interview measurements.”

The host, Charlie Stayt, and his co-host, Naga Munchetty, who chuckled along, were quickly in hot water. After the BBC came under fire for disrespecting the British flag, both were reprimanded. Ms. Munchetty apologized for liking “offensive” Twitter posts that joined in the mockery of the minister’s flag.

Never one to duck a culture-war skirmish, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seized on the flag flap to try to keep opponents on the defensive and the dissolution of the United Kingdom at bay.

On Wednesday, it decreed that, henceforth, the Union Jack should fly on all government buildings every day of the year, rather than simply on designated days. The only exception will be regional holidays when, say, the Scottish flag, the Saltire, would fly in Scotland on St. Andrew’s Day.

revised guidance on flags, noted that in the United States, the Stars and Stripes flies year-round, not just on federal buildings but also at schools and in front of polling places. Likewise in Australia, the national flag can be flown every day of the year from federal and state parliaments.

Britons tend to be less demonstrative about their flag than the citizens of their former colonies. Unlike Americans, they rarely hang it in front of their homes. The Union Jack arouses ambivalent emotions among some on the left, who associate it with Britain’s imperial past, and in parts of the United Kingdom, particularly Scotland, where pro-independence feelings run strong.

That, of course, is precisely the point for a government that is desperate to avert another referendum on independence for Scotland after elections there in May in which the Scottish National Party is expected to win a strong mandate.

was taken to task by a Conservative lawmaker, James Wild, for not publishing an image of the Union Jack in the broadcaster’s 268-page annual report.

“Do you find that surprising?” Mr. Wild asked, to which Mr. Davie replied, “No, I think that’s a strange metric.”

A former marketing executive who was chosen because of his ability to get along with the government, Mr. Davie pointed out that the BBC promotes Britain worldwide. The Union Jack, he said, flew proudly from its London headquarters.

Critics on Twitter lost no time lampooning the new reverence for the flag. They coined an off-color hashtag and attributed it to unhealthy nationalism, post-Brexit insecurity or cynical politics.

“This may be very ‘20th Century’ of me,” posted Simon Fraser, formerly the senior civil servant at the Foreign Office, “but I do worry when politicians start getting obsessive about flags.”

he posted.

Clare Hepworth, a trade unionist, quoted Bill Moyers, a broadcaster and former aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, who once said of politicians who brandish flags, “They’re counting on your patriotism to distract you from their plunder.”

And, of course, it was another Johnson, Samuel, who in the 18th century famously said, “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

At a time when the government is winning broad public support for its coronavirus vaccine rollout — the country’s largest mass mobilization since World War II — a manufactured row over flags might seem unnecessary.

proposing to air two beloved patriotic songs without their lyrics because they evoked a colonial past that is at odds with the values of the Black Lives Matter movement.

outfitted at a reported cost of 2.6 million pounds, or about $3.5 million. He will be flanked by no fewer than four Union Jacks.

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BBC Apologizes for Interview With Cory Booker Impostor

The BBC has issued an apology and started an investigation after airing an interview with a man who posed as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.

The network said in a statement that the unidentified man was interviewed on the “Newshour” radio program last Friday, adding that the appearance appeared to have been a “deliberate hoax.”

The statement said that the BBC had apologized to Mr. Booker and that the company was looking into “what went wrong” to ensure it does not happen again.

The interview aired once, live at 3 p.m. Eastern and mostly in the United States and a few other places around the world, a spokesman for the BBC said on Thursday. A second edition of “Newshour,” which airs at 4 p.m., was also broadcast in the United States and around the world, but without the interview, he said.

one woman said.

At least one other person responded directly to the BBC on Twitter, saying, “I’m not sure who the BBC World Service just interviewed on Newshour about US relations with Saudi Arabia, but it definitely was not Senator Cory Booker.”

she said.

Mr. Booker, a Democrat, is no stranger to the topic the impostor spoke about. In 2019 he voted in support of resolutions disapproving arm sales to Saudi Arabia. The year before, Mr. Booker called the death of Mr. Khashoggi “appalling” and said he joined colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee to seek sanctions against anyone involved in the “horrific” act.

Stories of pranksters and impersonators finagling their way into news programs are not uncommon.

Last December, an animal-rights activist pretending to be the chief executive of Smithfield Foods conducted an interview with Maria Bartiromo, the host of the Fox Business show “Mornings With Maria.” At the end of the broadcast, Ms. Bartiromo issued a public correction saying, “It appears we have been punked.”

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