Censorship in Hong Kong

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Censorship in Hong Kong, which refers to the suppression of speech or other public communication, raises issues regarding the freedom of speech. By law, censorship is usually practiced against the distribution of certain materials, particularly child pornography, obscene images, and reports on court cases which may lead to unfair trial.

Prior to the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, Hong Kong boasted one of the highest degrees of press freedom in Asia.[1] Since the handover to mainland China, Hong Kong has been granted relative legal, economic, and political autonomy under the one country, two systems policy. In contrast to the rest of China, where control over media is pervasive, Hong Kong's freedom of speech, of the press, and of publication are protected under Article 27 of the Hong Kong Basic Law[2] and Article 16 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.[3]

Censorship after the handover[edit]

Despite guarantees of free speech, public surveys in 1997 showed increasing fears of self-censorship by journalists of writings critical of the Central Government,[4] although a journalists indicated in a survey from the Hong Kong Journalists Association that they overwhelmingly did not hesitate to publish criticisms of China, and that actual instances of direct pressure from the Chinese government to change news were very rare. Since the handover, Hong Kong newspapers (and especially English-language media) have increased their use of a self-declared editorial independence as a marketing tool towards international audiences.[5]

In 1997, reporters from the Apple Daily were denied permission to cover a Hong Kong reception organised by the Chinese Foreign Ministry due to their history of criticising China.[6] In 1998, there was a controversy about remarks made by magazine publisher Xu Simin alleging anti-mainland bias from the government-funded broadcaster RTHK. Although pro-RTHK commentators saw Xu's comments as coming from Beijing, Central Government representatives distanced themselves from his comments.[5]

In 2011, Hong Kong Journalists Association Chairwoman Mak Yin-ting (Chinese: 麥燕庭) commented on growing business ties between Beijing and media owners, asserting that "Now, more than half of Hong Kong media bosses or high media management have been absorbed by the Communist government... They may consider whether reporting on some issues will affect the relationship between their bosses and the government."[7][8] That year, Hong Kong's ranking on the Press Freedom Index published annually by Reporters Without Borders dropped twenty places to 54th place. In a report published alongside the index, it was noted that "arrests, assaults and harassment worsened working conditions for journalists [in Hong Kong] to an extent not seen previously, a sign of a worrying change in government policy."[9]

In 2014, Kevin Lau, a journalist known for his tough reporting on China, was fired from his position as the editor of the Ming Pao newspaper and replaced with another editor, inexperienced in Hong Kong but viewed as pro-Beijing,[10] and later brutally stabbed on 26 February by an assailant riding pillion on a motorbike.[11] As a result of Lau's dismissal, thousands of people had demonstrated for press freedom only three days earlier.[10] Police suspect the attack was carried out by the Wo Shing Wo triad.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lee Chin-Chuan (1997). "Media Structure and Regime Change in Hong Kong", The Challenge of Hong Kong's Reintegration with China. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 160-161.
  2. ^ Hong Kong Basic Law
  3. ^ Hong Kong Bill of Rights
  4. ^ Shemwell, Carolyn. pp.1-2
  5. ^ a b Holbig, Heike. "Hong Kong press freedom in transition". In Ash, Robert; Ferdinand, Peter; Hook, Brian et al. Hong Kong in Transition: One country, two systems. Studies in the Modern History of Asia. Routledge. pp. 197, 201–203. 
  6. ^ Shemwell, Carolyn (2002). "Self-Censorship and the Press in Hong Kong" Perspectives on Business and Economics. vol. 20. p.10.
  7. ^ Hong Kong Media Practicing Self-Censorship: Survey. New Tang Dynasty Television, 3 May 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  8. ^ Stone, R. (1998). "Control without repression: China's influence on the political economy of Hong Kong press system". Asia Pacific Media Educator. 4, pp. 160-161.
  9. ^ "World Press Freedom Index 2011-2012", Reporters Without Borders, 25 January 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  10. ^ a b Hong Kong news editor Kevin Lau improving after attack, BBC News, 28 February 2014
  11. ^ Outrage in Hong Kong after editor attack, CNN post by Kristie Lu Stout
  12. ^ Kevin Lau out of intensive care as police make breakthrough in attack case, SCMP, 28 February 2014