BBC journalists concerned over Tony Hall’s Huawei meeting

The BBC director general, Tony Hall, is to meet executives at Huawei next week, raising concerns among some journalists at the corporation about the broadcaster’s coverage of the Chinese technology company.

BBC News journalists have raised concerns about the potential conflict between the corporation’s need to provide independent and critical coverage of China with the rest of the organisation’s financial need to sign commercial deals with Chinese businesses, with some seeing Hall’s visit as a PR win for Huawei.

A BBC spokesperson confirmed Hall would meet executives, with the meeting expected to take place at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen.

Britain has a special government department overseen by GCHQ to test the Chinese company’s hardware, while Donald Trump has issued a blanket US government ban on the purchase of its technology. UK government ministers have also discussed the national security implications of Huawei’s role in upgrading Britain’s communications infrastructure and the extent to which legislation in China could compel Chinese companies active in the UK to assist with intelligence work.

“China and the wider region is obviously an important market for the BBC, both for our commercial businesses as well as for BBC News,” said a spokesperson. Tony’s going to open our new bureau in Hong Kong, visit the Beijing bureau and will see a range of people to understand the changing nature of the tech market as well as meeting commercial clients.”

The BBC is already expanding in China. BBC Studios, the corporation’s commercial arm, has offices in Shanghai and Beijing, while the corporation also has a growing partnership with Shanghai Media Group to distribute Doctor Who in China.

Hall is expected to meet representatives of other big Chinese businesses while on his trip, including companies such as the Amazon rival Alibaba.