According to an April 13 tweet by Peter Dahlin, director of human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders, Norwegian company Telia stopped broadcasting China Global Television Network (CGTN) after receiving a complaint from victims of forced TV confessions in China.
The group urged global television companies, including Eutelsat, not to air CGTN and thus participate in the Chinese Communist Party’s grave human rights abuses (CCP).
TV confessions are a tactic used by the CCP to harass specific groups such as human rights attorneys, activists, critics, believers, and ethnic minorities.
CGTN, formerly CCTV International until 2016, is the international division of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), and is regulated by the CCP’s Publicity Department.
It has three distribution centres and is available in more than 160 countries and territories, according to its official website.
According to The Diplomat, CGTN “has a consistent record of blatantly and egregiously breaching journalistic norms and promoting or justifying hostility and abuse toward innocent citizens.”
Even a former CGTN employee, British TV executive Nick Pollard, spoke out against his employer’s irregularities. Pollard resigned from his role as consultant and adviser to CGTN on September 18, 2019, citing CGTN’s inability to follow the rules of the UK’s regulator, the Office of Communications, known as Ofcom, about impartiality in its coverage of the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests.
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the United States Department of State designated CGTN and its parent company, CCTV, as foreign missions in 2020. (FARA).
In April 2020, the NGO Reporters Without Borders chastised CGTN for spreading false information about COVID-19.
On February 4, 2021, Ofcom revoked Star China Media’s broadcast licence (the UK broadcast licence holder for CGTN), citing a lack of editorial authority over the channel. The regulator also rejected an application to pass the broadcast licence to the China Global Television Network Corporation (CGTNC), claiming that CGTNC was “owned by a body that is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”
According to the letter, the majority of TV confession victims are human rights lawyers, NGO staff, and journalists. It also identified the conditions that lead to TV confessions in China: torture, intimidation, and deprivation. To coerce prisoners into surrendering, even their family members, whether elderly or young, are threatened or beaten.
The open letter’s writers asked TV providers to help “curb these human rights abuses by banning China’s media from airing.”
The letter was co-signed by 13 victims who were detained and coerced to make TV confessions about their human rights activities in communist China. Lawyers Bao Longjun, Jiang Tianyong, Wang Yu, and Xie Yang were among them, as were rights activists Peter Dahlin, Peter Humphrey, Simon Cheng, Dong Guangping, Zhai Yanmin, Liu Sixin, Liu Xing, and Li Gang, and bookseller Lam Wing-kee. Angela Gui also signed for her father, Gui Minhai, also known as Michael Gui, a Chinese-born Swedish book publisher and author.
According to lawyer Bao Longjun, TV confessions are involuntary in China.
“You are coerced into admitting charges levied on you by whatever means possible,” Bao said. “All of those allegations are baseless, but the government forces you to admit them.”
The lawyer argued that TV confessions are harmful to the justice system.
“They are entirely contrary to legal criteria, which is an irony of [the CCP’s] ‘ruling the country by law,'” Bao said. “It is aimed specifically at dissidents, pro-democracy activists, and human rights lawyers. Extremely evil practices occur when you are forced to confess your baseless guilt through submission, allowing the CCP regime to easily manipulate you.