Economist’s Hong Kong correspondent expelled in a new blow to press freedom
The authorities refused to renew the visa of Sue-Lin Wong, correspondent for the British weekly. Other journalists from foreign newspapers have been affected in the recent past. After the approval of the security law, reporters are forced into self-censorship. Beijing rejects all accusations.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – In a new blow to press freedom, Hong Kong authorities have expelled Economist correspondent Sue-Lin Wong. Her visa was not renewed and no explanation was given.
Last year Aaron Mc Nicholas of the Hong Kong Free Press and Chris Buckley of the New York Times received the same treatment, preceded by in 2018 by Victor Mallet of the Financial Times.
Almost as one, her colleagues have expressed support for Wong, while industry observers view the decision as another sad day for Hong Kong, which is now under to the same repressive regime as mainland China.
According to an anonymous poll conducted last week by the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club, 84 per cent of journalists surveyed say working conditions in the city have worsened significantly since Beijing adopted a draconian national security law in June 2020.
Some 56 per cent admit to self-censorship or avoiding reporting on sensitive topics.
The Chinese government has rejected the accusations, saying that the number of newspapers registered in the city has actually grown in the last year.
Conversely, government critics point out that the number of publications forced to close under political pressure has also increased.
The best-known case is that of the Apple Daily, an independent newspaper founded by the Catholic publishing magnate Jimmy Lai. The pro-democracy newspaper closed on 24 June.
Accused of threatening national security, several of its top managers and journalists were arrested, its assets – HK$ 18 million (around US$ 2.3 million) – frozen.
Other media, such as RTHK, have lost their editorial autonomy. Hong Kong’s public television is now led by a former bureaucrat.
Steve Vines, a well-known former journalist and presenter of RTHK, fled to the United Kingdom, to escape the "white terror" that is sweeping the territory.
The term is used to denounce the use of the security law to target the media and terrorise the population.