Tue, Jul 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Freedom of the press under threat in HK, report says

HIGH STAKES:By the end of the year, nine out of 26, or 35 percent, of Hong Kong’s mainstream media outlets are to be under Chinese control, HKJA said

Staff writer, with CNA

The Hong Kong Journalist Association (HKJA) said that freedom of expression in general and press freedom in the territory in particular are likely to be further harmed as more Hong Kong mainstream media outlets come under the control of Chinese interests.

“We must stay vigilant to safeguard our rights,” HKJA chairman Chris Yeung (楊健興) said in a statement on Sunday to mark the publication of the group’s annual report, adding that Beijing is increasingly encroaching on Hong Kong’s autonomy and unprofessional Chinese media practices are spilling over to Hong Kong media.

The annual report, titled Two Systems Under Siege, said that Beijing’s pressure is likely to exacerbate the worsening issue of self-censorship as Hong Kong media outlets controlled by Chinese interests “report ‘forced confessions’ and muzzle dissenting voices.”

These trends would increase as more Chinese interests gain stakes in Hong Kong media organizations, the association said in the report.

It said that by the end of the year, with the addition of i-CABLE Communications, nine out of 26 mainstream media outlets would be under Chinese control or have Chinese stakes, raising the proportion to 35 percent.

More than 85 percent of media owners or top newsroom managers have been incorporated in various ways into Chinese or Hong Kong establishments, the report said.

It urged Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s (林鄭月娥) administration to take immediate action to defend Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and to refrain from enacting national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law until society reaches a consensus on the issue.

The association also called for Lam’s government to enact freedom of information and archive laws to ensure that Hong Kongers, including journalists, have proper access to government information and documents, and to grant online media reporters carrying out legitimate journalistic work equal access to government facilities and news feeds.

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