China slams press freedom survey that shows journalists want to leave Hong Kong
China questions the validity and data of a new press freedom survey.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) survey found nearly half of its members expressed an interest in leaving Hong Kong, the Associated Press reported. The members cited declining press freedom as the main reason for their desire to leave. Eighty-three of 99 journalists surveyed said things had “changed for the worse”.
In 2019, Beijing enacted sweeping legislation in response to pro-democracy protests. The law banned what the government calls subversion, secession, foreign collusion and terrorism, and it has since been used to arrest more than 120 people.
However, China’s Foreign Ministry commissioner’s office is responding to the investigation, saying the FCC consists of “dark minions” who interfere in city affairs.
In a statement, the office said: “There is no absolute freedom of the press anywhere in the world that is above the law. It is common international practice for countries to oversee the news media. working in their own country according to the law.”
Critics of the law said it had reversed previously promised freedoms in the region, leading to the imprisonment of many pro-democracy activists.
For more Associated Press reporting, see below.
“These results clearly show that assurances that Hong Kong still enjoys freedom of the press, guaranteed by the Basic Law, are not enough,” FCC Chairman Keith Richburg said. “Further steps must be taken to restore trust among journalists and ensure that Hong Kong maintains its long-standing reputation as a home for international media.
The investigation comes as authorities crack down on political dissent in Hong Kong.
The former British colony was previously known for its vibrant press freedom and for decades served as the regional headquarters for many English-language news outlets.
The National Security Law has been used against journalists in the city. The pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was forced to close in June after millions of dollars in assets were frozen and several editors and senior executives were arrested.
The New York Times moved some of its staff from Hong Kong to Seoul due to uncertainties about the prospects for journalism in the city under security legislation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing on Friday that the rights of foreign media and journalists in Hong Kong will be “fully protected” as long as they report according to law. .
Wang said that in April this year, there were 628 foreign employees with foreign media work visas in Hong Kong, an increase of 18.5 percent from the same period last year.
“It is a true reflection of how people from all walks of life, including foreign media in Hong Kong, see and feel the economic, social and media environment in Hong Kong,” he said.