China suddenly cut a BBC broadcast as the network's China correspondent began to discuss Beijing's detention of more than a million Uighur Muslims in "re-education" camps.
The BBC's Stephen McDonell filmed the moment it happened as he began to discuss the infamously poor treatment of the Turkic ethnic minority living in China's northwestern Xinjiang province.
After going on air at 7am to file his account of the trip, he decided to record the 8am replay.
The video shows his TV in China going blank as he says: “One thing he might be expected by some in Muslim countries to raise would be the question of the camps in the far west of China. There’s up to...” -Independent
Here’s the moment #China’s censors pull the @BBCWorld TV feed this morning as I’m speaking about the visiting crown prince of #SaudiArabia and the possibility of him raising the mass extra-judicial detention camps holding many 100s of thousands of ethnic Uighurs in the west... pic.twitter.com/Yl9Eo13GHL— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) February 22, 2019
McDonell said that the same thing happened the previous day.
"We can pretty much predict the subjects when they will cut the feed and recently coverage of Xinjiang’s mass “re-education” camps has been just such a subject," he said.
McDonell's tweets sparked quite a few replies, including one from author and political historian Brian Dooley, whose interview on Chinese state television was cut short when he began to discuss the killings in Tiananmen Square.
I was interviewed in 2014 on Chinese state CCTV about American civil rights history. Interview swiftly ended when I started talking about killings in Tiananmen Square. @stephenmcdonell @bbcworld https://t.co/eLiYwOYoNL— Brian Dooley (@dooley_dooley) February 22, 2019
Winnie the Pooh isn’t happy with you! pic.twitter.com/af1XZaKIpl— Scary Monsters, Super Creeps (@daveparke) February 22, 2019
Might’ve just been a glitch inside China. Who woulda thunk? ;-)— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) February 22, 2019
China has gone to great lengths to pretend that their Uighur "re-education" camps are the happiest places on earth - going on a narrative-shifting campaign to spin the cities as positive.
According to a report in The Times, Beijing is parading groups of Muslims around on state TV to extol the virtues of the system.
One restaurant owner, for example, said he became more tolerant after his time in a re-education camp, stating: "If I had let the religious extremism develop, I might have beaten non-Muslims who entered my restaurant," the man identified as Abudu Saimaiti said. "In the worst case, I would not walk on public roads, take city buses or use the official currency, because they are provided by non-Muslims, who run this country."
Speaking into the camera, the Chinese Muslim business owner added, “Through learning the law and the national policy, I have come to realize it’s a dead end for me, for my family and for my offspring, and my hometown will for ever be chaotic.”
Any reports to the contrary will get yanked off TV without so much as a transition.