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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Hong Kong news site to shut down; Pro-Beijing lawmakers took oath

by Huizhong Wu and Zhen Soo

HONG KONG (AP) — A group of lawmakers loyal to the Communist Party of China were sworn in on Monday in Hong Kong’s legislature after an election without opposition candidates, as another pro-democracy news outlet announced it was now facing increasing action. The middle may not work. freedom in the region.

The former British colony that was returned to China in 1997 was once known as a haven for dissent and freedom of press and expression not seen on the mainland. But the central government in Beijing has shut down in the past year, causing independent news outlets to shut down, monuments removed for dissent, and a poorly attended election by pro-Beijing politicians.

The founders of news outlet Citizen News said the news site would stop publishing on Tuesday. While he has received no order to close, he said on Monday that deteriorating media freedom in the financial center has put him in an impossible position.

“We all love this place deeply. Sadly, what was in front of us is not just rain or strong winds, but hurricanes and tsunamis,” Citizen News said in a statement on Sunday, when it closed declare.

The outlet is the third in recent months after the region’s pro-democracy print newspaper, Apple Daily, and online site Stand News closed down.

Citizen News was founded in 2017 by a group of experienced journalists. The small site focused on political news and analysis pieces as well as investigations – and in recent months has become a haven for many journalists who have lost their jobs when other outlets closed or faced other pressures.

Vivian W.W. Tam said, “With the abrupt closure of Apple Daily last summer, the journalism majors, who were originally supposed to intern with them, Citizen News arranged to take them on so that students would not miss this internship opportunity.” get lost.” Senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Journalism in a public Facebook post. Tam declined to be interviewed.

But a new comprehensive national security law – imposed on Hong Kong by China’s central legislature – has made independent reporting increasingly dangerous. Journalists and political activists have been arrested under the law, and this has forced civil rights groups and unions to dissolve. Many more workers have fled.

Meanwhile, new laws have changed how Hong Kong people vote for their representatives, including a requirement that anyone seeking office must be a “patriot”, effectively serving as Beijing’s representative. Bringing the body under control.

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“What we understand about press freedom has changed a lot,” said Chris Yeung, founder and lead author of Citizen News.

Yeung told a news conference on Monday that the reason for his decision to close was to Stand News. Last week, authorities raided Stand News and arrested seven people – including editors and former board members – for allegedly plotting to publish seditious material. Stand News announced the same day that it would stop operating.

Two former Stand News editors who were arrested were later formally charged with sedition.

Over the summer, authorities forced the closure of the Apple Daily, a newspaper owned by media tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai. Lai is currently in prison and was charged with treason anew last week.

“I fear this will turn Hong Kong into a black box that will not be reported to anyone,” said Chung Ching Kwang, project manager for the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong.

She said that though Citizen News was not contacted by the authorities, she considers the shutdown a forced one.

“I think shutdowns in general … are basically involuntary because of the fear that they may not do real and genuine journalism in the current political climate in Hong Kong,” said Kwang, a Hong Kong activist.

The Society of Publishers in Asia, a Hong Kong-based group that hosts an annual journalism award, also said on Monday it was concerned about the pressure against independent media in the city.

The US and other Western governments have condemned the limits of media and civil liberties that Beijing promised to maintain for 50 years after the 1997 handover of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defended the raid on Stand News last week, telling reporters that “inciting other people … under the guise of news reporting cannot be forgiven.”

The only remaining independent news media with access to the city are the Hong Kong Free Press, an English-language news outlet, and Initium, a Chinese-language news outlet, which moved its headquarters to Singapore in August but still has employees in the city. .

Citizen News compared itself to a small canoe in rough water.

“At the center of a severe storm, we found (ourselves) in a critical situation. In the event of a crisis, we must ensure the safety and well-being of all those on board,” it said.


This story has been updated to correct that the National Security Act was passed in 2020, not 2019.


Wu reported from Taipei, Taiwan.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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