After the two largest independent news websites remaining in China announced that they would shut down within a week, Hong Kong’s freedom of the press was on the verge of extinction.
Citizen News, an online news website established in 2017, said it will cease operations on Tuesday, citing the safety of its reporters. This decision will further weaken the once arbitrary and aggressive Hong Kong journalists, which was announced after the closure of the democratic publication Position News last Wednesday.
Booth News After being raided by the police, some reporters and former directors were arrested on suspicion of publishing “inflammatory” materials.
Chris Young, the chief writer of Citizen News, said that the suspension of publication was “triggered” by the arrest of Position News. “Those who are seen as picky or troublemakers are more vulnerable,” he said.
The editor-in-chief of Citizen News, Daisy Li, added that they “can no longer determine” what might violate the security laws that Beijing imposed on the city in 2020.
Lokman Tsui, a former assistant professor of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that many of his students are now unemployed. “For Hong Kong to become a global city, this is a sad situation. We used to have a very powerful media in Hong Kong, but now it is hard to say that it is free and powerful.
“This is an important part of this larger project… to dismantle Hong Kong’s critical independent media. [The government] All key outlets have been driven off and forced to close. “
The National Security Law was introduced after widespread democratic protests in 2019, which led to the suppression of civil society, more than 50 such groups were shut down, and opposition figures were arrested.
The suppression also permeated the local media. Apple DailyThe city’s largest democratic newspaper closed in June last year after 26 years. Its assets were frozen by the authorities, and senior managers including the founder Li Zhiying were arrested.
Citizen News has about 40 reporters, many of whom have recently joined the company. The closure made the English news websites Hong Kong Free Press and Chinese inmediahk.net the last major independent news media in the city.
A former stance journalist who asked not to be named asked: “Why has the city deteriorated so quickly that even ordinary media are not allowed to exist?”
But Lee Hsien Loong, Chief Secretary for Administration and Hong Kong’s second-highest official, said last week that the media that endangers national security are “bad apples” and “evil elements that undermine press freedom.”
Liu Zhaojia, vice-chairman of the China Hong Kong and Macau Research Association based in Beijing, insisted that reports criticizing the government “there is still room.” “I don’t think the local media landscape will become[monotonous]… After some outlets “steadily hit” [closed down]. “
Keith Richburg, chairman of the city’s Foreign Correspondents Club, said that the space for independent media to operate in Hong Kong has shrunk, and many people question whether there is room for critical reporting in the city. “A vibrant society and good government depend on critical media that question policies,” he added.