The Spectator

Letters: In defence of seagulls

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China’s covered

Sir: If Charles Moore had contacted the BBC, rather than conducting a fruitless Google search, we would have told him we run three China bureaux — in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong — and that our three mainland correspondents are backed up by production and administrative staff locally. In Hong Kong, we have a team for the BBC’s online Chinese language service.

We would have outlined our agenda-setting, and award-winning, reporting on the Uighurs over the last two years, as well as other major issues such as Covid and the situation in Hong Kong. We would have highlighted our BBC2 three-part series on President Xi. And we would have pointed out the audience growth for our Chinese language service, despite our site being officially blocked in China. None of this bears out his assertion that the BBC has ‘given up’ reporting China.

It will also come as a surprise to the BBC’s Persian service, which recently revealed an official cover-up of Covid deaths in Iran, that the BBC’s reporting of that country is ‘timid’. BBC Persian journalists, whose work regularly features on British bulletins, face a sustained campaign of intimidation from the Iranian government, yet they continue to break stories such as this.

Jonathan Munro
Head of BBC Newsgathering, London W1A

BBC blind spot

Sir: Charles Moore has a point about the paucity of the BBC’s China coverage (Spectator Notes, 12 September). To have so few correspondents in a country of its size and importance is a missed opportunity. American TV coverage is slanted and we often turn to BBC World for a different view, but China is its great blind spot. To learn about fish, you go to the water. To know and report on China, you need a decent-sized staff in the mainland.

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