Explanation: The decline of press freedom in Hong Kong under the National Security Act

Press freedom in Hong Kong has suffered serious setbacks since the Beijing-imposed National Security Law came into effect in June last year. In recent weeks, public broadcaster RTHK has been hit by a series of crackdowns and documentary producer Bao Choy has been convicted of making false statements to obtain license plate registrations of public vehicles. The government plans to restrict media access to public records, legislate against “fake news” and the pro-democracy Apple Daily has been forced to shut down as the first anniversary of the security law approaches.

The HKFP has gathered major events affecting press freedom since the enactment of the security legislation.

Photo: Studio Incendo.

july 2020

august 2020

File photo: KH / United Social Press.

September 2020

Inside the red brick wall. Photo: Ying E Chi Cinema, via Facebook.

October 2020

  • National Security Police raided Jimmy Lai’s private office.
  • A district councilor was given a suspended prison sentence for publicly identifying the officer who allegedly shot an Indonesian journalist in the eye.

november 2020

Jimmy Lai. File photo: Kelly Ho / HKFP.

december 2020

January 2021

  • The Hong Kong government has announced its decision to put Covid-19 press briefings online. He backtracked on criticism from a Hong Kong journalism watchdog.
  • The police demanded Apple Daily hand over information on journalists who searched for public vehicle registration plate records.
  • Police visited the newsrooms of Apple Daily, InMedia and StandNews with search warrants requiring documents relating to LegCo’s primary elections in July 2020.
  • RTHK chief Leung Ka-wing advised staff not to question the 55 Democrats arrested under the National Security Act about their alleged involvement in the primaries.
  • Three people convicted of rioting and assaulting a mainland journalist at the airport during anti-government protests in 2019 have been jailed for up to 5.5 years.
  • Bao Choy has pleaded not guilty to making false statements after obtaining vehicle registration information for a movie about the Yuen Long mob attacks in 2019.
  • The head of Hong Kong’s largest police union has slammed public broadcaster RTHK for allegedly biased reporting on a weekend lockdown to fight Covid-19.
A silent demonstration organized by the RTHK union to support their colleague Nabela Qoser. Photo: Candice Chau / HKFP.

February 2021

World Press Photo Exhibition in Hong Kong. Photo: World Press Photo Exhibition Hong Kong, via Facebook.

March 2021

Press freedom in 2021. Photo: RSF.

April 2021

Journalist Bao Choy appears in court on April 22, 2021. Photo: Studio Incendo.

May 2021

RTHK YouTube channel. Photo: RTHK Screenshot via YouTube.
Claudia Mo. Photo: Kelly Ho / HKFP.

June 2021

Dozens of Hong Kong police officers break into Apple Daily headquarters in Tseung Kwan O on June 17, 2021.

Candice is a reporter for the Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher in a local think tank. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a Masters in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.

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