101 East

China’s TV Confessions

Activists accuse Chinese state media of human rights violations, for televising confessions they allege were forced.

“They put me in this chair, they lock me in it, they lock the cage, and there are all these camera lenses poking through the bars of this cage.”

Peter Humphrey had been held by Chinese authorities for almost two months when he says he was sedated and brought before television cameras to “confess” in August 2013.

Human rights activists say Humphrey, a British corporate investigator who was jailed for almost two years in China, is just one of dozens of alleged lawbreakers who have been subjected to this kind of treatment since 2013.

Some former detainees are now speaking up. They say their confessions were extracted under duress and that law enforcement officials dictated what they could or could not say.

These accusations come to light amid an ambitious expansion plan by CGTN, the international arm of China’s state broadcaster, CCTV. A global recruitment drive is under way, and a new European hub is set to open in London.

But there are now calls for the UK’s media watchdog to refuse the Chinese broadcaster’s request for a license because activists say it has collaborated with Chinese authorities to broadcast forced confessions.

As China seeks to extend the global reach of its state-owned TV network, 101 East investigates the growing calls for the international community to hold its journalism to international standards.