HK broad­caster re­places BBC with Chi­nese ra­dio


Hong Kong’s of­fi­cial ra­dio sta­tion said it will re­place its 24-hour BBC broad­cast with Chi­nese state-run pro­gram­ming in a move crit­ics yes­ter­day said was a step to­wards “main­lan­di­s­a­tion”. The city’s Ra­dio Tele­vi­sion Hong Kong has been broad­cast­ing the BBC World Ser­vice live since 1978 but will re­place it start­ing Septem­ber 4 with the China Na­tional Ra­dio Hong Kong Edition (CNR). Some see the move as signs that the city is fur­ther align­ing it­self with China.

“This is ab­so­lutely one step for­ward to­wards main­lan­di­s­a­tion in Hong Kong,” pro-democ­racy law­maker Clau­dia Mo told AFP, adding that Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties may feel that city res­i­dents were not pa­tri­otic enough. “They should all be reigned in and taught to feel Chi­nese,” Mo said of the motive be­hind the move, which comes at a time when many feel Beijing is squeez­ing the semi-au­ton­o­mous city’s free­doms.

Res­i­dents also took to so­cial me­dia to de­cry the move, with Yu Yeuk-mui say­ing on Face­book: “One more bad news! Hong Kong is burn­ing al­ready”. Frus­tra­tions over the city’s po­lit­i­cal and so­cial de­vel­op­ments have led to the emer­gence of a new in­de­pen­dence move­ment call­ing for Hong Kong to break from the main­land.

The un­veil­ing of a con­tro­ver­sial rail link to the main­land last month which would see a por­tion of the city come un­der Chi­nese law has been the fo­cus of the most re­cent back­lash, with crit­ics say­ing the city’s cher­ished free­doms are be­ing eroded. RTHK’s head of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions Amen Ng said the CNR Hong Kong edition is “tai­lor-made for Hong Kong peo­ple”. “It will en­cour­age the cul­tural ex­change be­tween main­land China and Hong Kong,” Ng said.

Bank teller Alex Yan agreed, say­ing the ben­e­fits of the broad­cast out­weighed the dis­ad­van­tages as the new CNR pro­gram­ming would of­fer res­i­dents an in­sight into the lives of their north­ern neigh­bors. “It can help them bet­ter un­der­stand the things hap­pen­ing in China,” Yan, 21, said. The CNR broad­cast will in­clude pro­gram­ming in news, arts and cul­ture, and life­style mostly in Man­darin, with some pro­grams in Can­tonese. The of­fi­cial lan­guage in Hong Kong is Can­tonese, while Man­darin is the main lan­guage over the bor­der.

RTHK said it will still be broad­cast­ing the BBC World Ser­vice, which res­i­dents use as an English-learn­ing tool, but it will switch to an­other chan­nel for eight hours from 11pm on­wards on a daily ba­sis. Hong Kong was handed back to China by colonial ruler Bri­tain in 1997 un­der a “one country, two sys­tems” for­mula de­signed to pro­tect its free­doms and way of life. —AFP

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