For many years, Hong Kong has been a hotbed of media presence in Asia, leading to the largest organization in the world to select the city as a province.
Today, many members of Hong Kong’s foreign affairs group are wondering when the city will become a global media presence in Asia as the authorities step up their efforts to crack down on dissidents to cover foreign journalists.
On Saturday, The Economist reported that Hong Kong officials had refused to renew their business visa to Sue-Lin Wong, a former Australian correspondent with the Financial Times.
Wong is the fourth foreign journalist to be deported from the former British colony since 2018, when the government refused to renew the operating license of Victor Mallet, the then Asian news correspondent for the Financial Times, after a press conference in Hong Kong. freedom fighter Andy Chan.
The editor-in-chief of the Economist newspaper, Zanny Minton Beddoes, said government officials had not commented on the decision and called on the government to “maintain the availability of foreign journalists, which is essential for the region to become a global city.”
The global financial center, which features free information release as one of the key keys, has offices and regional headquarters for many media organizations around the world including Bloomberg, CNN, New York Times, and Reuters.
Unlike in China, journalists in Hong Kong do not require special licenses, but a work permit that was previously easy to obtain. As well as the entrance to China, the city has for many years been a base for journalists to cover the region, taking part in covering major issues such as the Vietnam War and the 1969 Malaysian riots.
Florence de Changy, a Hong Kong journalist at Le Monde and former President of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club, called on Al Jazeera Beijing a “reform campaign” since the introduction of the country’s national security law last year.
“One of them [the law’s] Articles are aimed primarily at foreign correspondents. There is no doubt now that anything that offends the Chinese authorities could get you into trouble, “de Changy said.
“I had to keep an eye on the people I interviewed for them, and maybe for myself.”
Although Hong Kong guarantees freedom of speech and the media under its by-laws, which were enacted before the city was ousted from power in China in 1997, the city’s media center was replaced by a government set up following violent protests against democracy. 2019.
To date, local journalists have been concerned about the law, which provides life sentences for well-known cases of isolation, lawlessness, terrorism, and alliances with foreign forces.
Apple Daily, the city’s largest democratic newspaper, was forced to close in June after governments suspended its stock and arrested governors and journalists. RTHK Public Publisher became self-employed under the direction of a newly formed organization with no publishing skills.
However, journalists from other countries have been affected by climate change.
In a recent survey of FCC members, 84 percent of those surveyed said that jobs had “changed dramatically” since the security law was enacted, and 91 percent had expressed concern about plans to pass a so-called “false news” plan. 56 per cent of those surveyed said they had tried it themselves or avoided other issues, while 46 percent said they were planning to leave the city or are considering it.
China’s Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong has denied the FCC’s findings, criticizing a group of journalists for “interfering in Hong Kong news”.
In August, former British journalist Stephen Vines, a former FCC president, announced that he had left Hong Kong because of the “pure threat” in the city and the “dangerous, personal and political events”.
Last year, the New York Times reported that it would move part of its operations to Seoul in compliance with the policy, and the Washington Post soon announced the South Korean capital as the location of their new Asian capital.
A journalist from Hong Kong’s international news outlet told Al Jazeera that he expects the expulsion of foreign journalists in the coming months, as well as the introduction of special journalist visas and a “fake news” law.
“If visa issuance is not known – as is the case in China – the media companies will simply withdraw and leave,” the journalist said, speaking anonymously.
“They will have journalists and much more to cover Hong Kong and China, but why would you be in danger of having sales staff, professionals, finance departments, regional planners, etc. – not to mention paying office rent – if visas are difficult. such an experience would be real. ”
An employee of an international company in the city said he was “surprised” that most TVs do not face the same challenges as Economist.
“In the end I think Hong Kong can be a social media platform like China. For me, the big question is whether this will take a few years or decades,” he said, requesting anonymity because of the implications of the issue.
Beijing has repeatedly denied concerns about limited freedom of the press in the autonomous region. Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters that the number of visas workers working with foreign media had risen by 98 to 628 people a year by April.
Wang described the figures as “a reliable reflection of Hong Kong’s social and economic perceptions and values on how it deals with the reporting of people of all races, including journalists.”
The Hong Kong government has not responded to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
De Changy, former president of the FCC, said there was no doubt that the dark clouds were firmly rooted in the future of Hong Kong as the world’s media hub.
“You can no longer speak freely from the inside and you can no longer roam the area,” said de Changy, referring to Hong Kong’s “zero COVID” strict rules that mandate between 14 and 21 days to stay in the hotels that have arrived. .
“So what are the good reasons for staying in Hong Kong? Everyone is asking themselves these questions.”