Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - Page 6 News List

China sends local media to cover HK in shift from 2014

Bloomberg

China has dispatched regional state-run media organizations to Hong Kong in an effort to better control the narrative, a shift from the widespread censorship employed during the Occupy Protests in 2014.

Local governments late last month ordered some domestic media groups to send reporters to cover the protests with first-hand accounts, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named discussing confidential information.

The publications included several from Guangdong Province, which borders Hong Kong, as well as Jiefang Daily from Shanghai, Zhejiang News from Zhejiang Province and the Cover from Sichuan Province.

The reporting from these local publications on Hong Kong so far has focused largely on interviews with pro-China officials and business leaders, as well as the commitment of local police to restoring law and order and the frustrations of residents whose lives have been disrupted by the protests.

The protests began in early June to oppose a bill allowing extraditions to China and have since morphed into a broader pro-democracy movement.

China has long relied mainly on major state-run media outlets such as Xinhua news agency, the People’s Daily and the Global Times to report on sensitive issues, with heavier censorship on regional publications.

The Chinese State Council Information Office did not immediately reply to a fax seeking comment.

The change in strategy is partly because China wants to reinforce publicity targeting citizens in coastal provinces who have family or connections in Hong Kong, said Willy Lam (林和立), adjunct professor at the Center for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“The shift shows Beijing considers the challenge far more serious than 2014,” he said. “Beijing is trying to convince the domestic audience about what is happening there from its point of view.”

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