THE English Premier League has been taken off air in China as ‘revenge’ following the UK’s move to ban Huawei and the decision to end the Hong Kong extradition treaty.
Liverpool’s victory over Chelsea, which saw the team lift their first Premier League title, reportedly wasn’t aired last night as the state-run China Central Television broadcaster holds the rights to show top flight matches.
The final round of matches that are due to take place on Sunday no longer appear on the CCTV programme schedule.
It’s not the first time that the state-run broadcaster has banned the showing of competitive sport.
National Basketball Association (NBA) coverage was dropped after the general manager of Houston Rockets’ Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy forces in October 2019, Bloomberg reported.
The Premier League blackout was a response to the UK government’s decision to ban Huawei on July 14.
From January next year British telecom companies will be banned from buying Huawei equipment – and the company’s tech will be stripped out of the UK’s 5G network by 2027 because of security fears.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian threatened to take any post-Brexit trade deal with China off the table because of the decision.
“It’s a litmus test for the direction where the UK markets would go after Brexit, and whether the UK businesses in China will be provided with an open, fair and non-discriminate environment,” he said.
The comments threatened the security of leading UK companies which have operations in China including BP, Diageo, Glaxosmithkline, InterContinental Hotels and Jaguar Land Rover.
The Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming tweeted that it was “disappointing” and the “wrong” decision by the UK.
“It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, far and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries.”
The UK government decided to ban Huawei after US sanctions on China meant key components would no longer be able to be made with American equipment.
Tensions have continued to escalate and reached boiling point between the two nations as the PM vowed to get “tough” on China, days later.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused China of a “serious violation” as he announced a series of hardline measures.
He said: “Given the role China has now assumed for the internal security of Hong Kong, and the authority it is exerting over law enforcement, the UK will extend the arms embargo we have applied to mainland China.
“The Government has decided to suspend the extradition treaty immediately and indefinitely.”
Britain’s extradition to Hong Kong was suspended after national security laws meant those sent back could be hauled in front of Chinese courts and jailed in China.
The Government claimed that the laws violated the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
The declaration was supposed to guarantee Hong Kong freedom from Chinese rule under the “one county, two systems” model for 50 years after the handover of the former British colony in 1997.
The hardline laws – which reportedly could see dissidents jailed for life – were passed unanimously by the Chinese parliament.
Beijing has decided to clamp down due to increasing unrest on the island amid the emergence of a blossoming pro-democracy movement.
The protests were initially a backlash to a planned law that would allow Hong Kongers convicted of crimes to be extradited to mainland China and Taiwan.
They have since mushroomed into a broader backlash against the police, fuelled by fears of growing control against the Communist Party.
The laws will criminalise any act of subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces and it has been alleged that Hong Kong will become a secret police state.
The legislation also grants police massive powers to conduct searches without warrants and order internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be anti-China.
Three million Hongkongers are reportedly eligible for a British National (Overseas) passport, which is a path towards UK citizenship.