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HK press freedom in peril

posted 30 Apr 2015, 08:14 by HKIP News   [ updated 30 Apr 2015, 08:59]

In its 2015 report, Freedom House, a US-based organisation that monitors press freedom worldwide, lists Hong Kong as one of the areas with the biggest decline. In fact, for 5 consecutive years, Hong Kong's press freedom has been waning, dropping a further 41 points in 2014, lagging behind Japan and Taiwan.

In recent times, Hong Kong has witnessed numerous assaults on journalists. The year 2014 saw the stabbing of a former editor of Ming Pao in broad daylight in February, and physical attacks on reporters by pro-China elements during the Umbrella Revolution. Just today, the police inexplicably announced that they would take no further action against those arrested for assaulting the reporters, despite extensive video footage documenting the incidents. One can only assume that the police are acting on orders from a high place.

With the Chinese Communist government breathing down their necks, many Hong Kong journalists opt to exercise self-censorship, which has seriously blighted press freedom in the territory. A notable event was during last year's Umbrella Revolution, when a protestor was taken to a street corner and assaulted by police officers. TVB, a major channel in Hong Kong, caught the entire incident live on camera, but the station's chief news editor chose subsequently to edit out details and proffered a watered down version to the public.

Undoubtedly, given the current political climate in which Beijing is calling all the shots, it has become increasingly difficult to tell the truth in Hong Kong. Those on the opposition end of the political spectrum struggle to attract advertisers and funds, a sad situation that has often been pointed out by media figures from Passion Times and My Radio, two of the most outspoken news outlets in Hong Kong.

One should recall that pre-1997, under British administration, Hong Kong boasted a free press that was the envy of neighbouring countries. Yet, less than 20 years since China's takeover, the stifling hands of the Chinese Communist Party are slowly squeezing every breath of life out of Hong Kong's fragile freedom of expression.