Who's meddling now?
Clearly the party doing the MOST meddling in the affairs of Hong Kong is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)!
There must be greater push back against the creeping authoritarianism and bully tactics of CCP which are a very real threat to liberty and freedoms in Hong Kong (HK) and elsewhere in the world. People simply will not know of the great threat posed by CCP, the developing police state in the SAR, or of the failure of governance in HK if photographers, filmmakers, writers, artists, satirists, reporters and journalists are no longer free, and the fourth estate is effectively silenced.
For a long time now there have been news reports about the increasing difficulty of work as a journalist or news reporter in HK. The backdrop to this is the ongoing desire of both the local government and the Chinese central government represented by the CCP to control the narrative of events; the aim is to present HK's pro-democracy movement as violent radicals, threats to China's security who are under the influence of "foreign forces".
This is meant to feed into the CCP's long term aim of greater dominance on the world stage, which might seem rather like a hoax or conspiracy, but which has nevertheless been well-documented. (Blogs: Nationalism in China: the World revolves around CCP!; Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a virus that creates viruses!; Censoring a movement; BANNED and CENSORED: Zhao Shilin; CCP come clean about 1989 June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre; HRW says CCP's strategy is to undermine global human rights!) It's also part of an ideological battle between authoritarian and democratic nations.
Freedom of the press and publication has been under attack in HK for some time.
The Basic Law guarantees a range of freedoms: Hong Kong residents shall have, among other things, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and of publication; freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of procession, of demonstration, of communication, of movement, of conscience, of religious belief, and of marriage; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike.
Firstly, there are the cases involving the Causeway Bay Bookseller disappearances, which was an attempt by CCP to silence its critics in HK. Between October and December 2015, five staff of Causeway Bay Books went missing. At least two of them disappeared in mainland China, one in Thailand. One member, a British citizen, was last seen in HK, and eventually revealed to be in Shenzhen, across the Chinese border, without the travel documents necessary to have crossed the border through legal channels.
Secondly, there is the immigration case in which British journalist Victor Mallet was denied a work visa to stay in HK.
In recent HK protests both local and international journalists have suffered attacks and intimidation by Police officers who are not being held in any way accountable for breaking norms, laws and human rights conventions (see our blog on slipping press freedom).
14 July 2019, More than 1,500 join journalists’ silent march in Hong Kong, accusing police of mistreating media during extradition bill protests and demanding Carrie Lam steps in to defend press freedom, SCMP.
In March 2020 the HK Journalists Association issued an open letter to Police Commissioner Chris Tang, pleading for an end to the interference, obstruction, and violence meted out by his officers against reporters. A number of journalists have suffered injuries at the hand of zealous police officers, including an Indonesian reporter who was blinded in her right eye. Another reporter was abducted by police and denied medial attention.
Even the HK protesters' musical anthem "Glory to Hong Kong" has been banned, while laws concerning the playing of the Chinese National anthem in HK have been slammed into force despite opposition in the SAR.
In August 2020, Apple Daily media operator Jimmy Lai was arrested in a veiled and failed attempt to hamper publication of his newspaper. (See our blog: Alert to a Security Breach) While he was later cleared of a charge of intimidation, he is still awaiting trial on other charges since laid against him for his role as an advocate for greater democracy in HK.
Please don't think the clarion call about suppression of media and the free flow of information stems just from our website:
11 October 2019, Hong Kong’s Worsening Press Climate, The Atlantic.
22 July 2020, Hong Kong police search and fine protesters and journalists as dozens mark a year since Yuen Long mob attack, HKFP.
24 Sept 2020, How China is stifling press freedom in Hong Kong, Wion News.
More recently, the passing of National Security Legislation in HK has had a chilling effect on media reporting, with many journalists self-censoring their work for fear of falling foul of authorities due to the very ambiguous nature of the new legislation. (Blog: CCP swoops in to Hong Kong!)
In September 2020 the HK Police, probably at the direction of CCP, moved to ramp up its suppression of media reporting of pro-democracy action in the SAR. They redefined who would rate as acceptable holders of media credentials, immediately shutting out many from legally working to observe and report police and protester action in the city.
22 September 2020, The Hong Kong police now get to decide who’s a member of the press, Quartz
23 September 2020, Hong Kong police tighten control on media with new accreditation rules, The Guardian.
24 September 2020, China’s ministry tells foreign journalists’ club to ‘stop meddling in Hong Kong’ after concerns raised over new police media guidelines, SCMP.
24 September 2020, Hong Kong Journalists Oppose Accreditation Rule, Call It Attack On 'Freedom Of Press', Republicworld.com.
Local and international journalist groups are opposing new Hong Kong police rules that will decide who are allowed to cover HK protests. RTHK Programme Staff Union chairwoman Chiu Sin-yan speaks out (video). (Reddit; Q/T)
25 September 2020, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam denies police media move amounts to suppression of city’s press, SCMP.
27 September 2020, Hong Kong journalists warn of new threat to media freedom, World News/Al Jazeera Asia Pacific.
29 September 2020, Hong Kong online media alliance urges police to amend new definition for journalists, HKFP.
Since it is the CCP that is really meddling in the affairs of HK, and reducing the autonomy that the SAR was guaranteed under the 1984 Joint Declaration, other nations of the world are right to speak up on behalf of HK people.
CCP has illegally annexed HK. Stakeholders, including the United States of America, the European Union, and Britain must be involved in resolving the current dispute to restore Hong Kong's international standing and bring back stability. Without all of these stakeholders' involvement there can be no social, economic, geopolitical or broader resolution to the ongoing impasse.
The formation of the IPAC (Interparliamentary Alliance on China) group was a bold move that WTPOHK applaud and continue to watch with interest.
Already some online media groups have stated that they will continue their work in HK, in defiance of the HK Police's new accreditation ruling. Local journalists are rallying to defend their position which also directly impacts their employment and livelihoods.
Commenting on the coverage of Police action during protests, RTHK Programme Staff Union chairwoman Chiu Sin-yan aptly said: "They only want us and the public to see the things they want us to see." (Twitter) , (Reddit)
There absolutely no doubt that the CCP, the HK government and the Police in Hong Kong have a lot to hide! While we are suffocating here under their repression, anyone who fails to challenge their spin on events gives air to their alternate universe.
10 July 2020, Journalists, Free Speech Activists 'at Risk of Dying' in Chinese Jails, Radio Free Asia