The service began in 1941, eight years before the communist takeover of China and proclamation of the People's Republic of China after years of civil war. It has been an invaluable source of news and current affairs to 'a country starved of information', notably during the Vietnam war and Cultural Revolution led by Mao Zedong in the 1960s and 1970s, and the 1989 brutal crackdown on dissent by the Chinese regime.
During the dark years before China's period of opening up, Chinese Service employee Joseph Ren says "They (the Chinese public) could hardly get any news about the world, and hardly anything about the rest of China, so they listened to us in secret just to understand the world and understand China itself".
In cutting its radio broadcasting service the BBC joins US government-funded 'Voice of America' in limiting future content access in China to its online version, saying it is 'moving with the times' and that many in China will still be able to access their website by using proxy servers to get around Chinese Internet censorship.
The BBC has described the situation as 'not ideal' but remains confident that its web-service will be able to adequately provide the people of China with accessible, uncensored news and information outside of the communist government's web of propaganda. The end of BBC Chinese Service's radio broadcasts has been labelled 'the end of an era' by publications in China.