November 26, 2022

Hong Kong news site closed; Pro-Beijing lawmakers took office

HONG KONG (AP) – A group of lawmakers loyal to the Communist Party of China took office in the Hong Kong legislature on Monday following the election without opposition candidates, and another pro-democracy news agency announced that it could no longer function amid growing repression. Freedom in the territory.

The former British colony, which returned to China in 1997, was once known as a haven for press and expression freedom not found on the mainland. But the federal government in Beijing tightened its grip last year, Led to the closure of independent news outlets and the removal of monuments to disagreements, And the election was badly attended by pro-Beijing politicians.

The founders of Citizen News News Agency said the news site would stop publishing on Tuesday. Although they have not received any order to close, they said on Monday that the deteriorating media freedom at the financial center had pushed them to the point of impossibility.

“We all love this place deeply. Unfortunately, what’s in front of us are not just rain or wind, but hurricanes and tsunamis,” Citizen News said in a statement on Sunday, announcing the closure.

It is the third store to close in recent months, following the closure of the region’s last pro-democracy print newspaper., Apple Daily, and the online site Stand News.

Citizen News 2017 was founded by a group of senior journalists. The small site focuses on political news and analytical pieces and 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.

“Since the Apple Daily closed abruptly last summer, the press majors who had to train with them first arranged for Citizen News to pick them up so students would not miss out on this internship opportunity,” said Vivian W. Tom. Senior Lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in a public Facebook post. Tom declined to be interviewed.

But the new National Security Act – imposed by the Federal Assembly of China in Hong Kong – has made the declaration of independence increasingly dangerous. Journalists and political activists have been arrested under the law and are being forced to disband civil rights groups and unions. Many more activists fled.

Meanwhile, new laws have changed the way Hong Kongers vote for their representatives, including the requirement that aspirants be “patriots” and bring the body under Beijing’s control.

“Our understanding of press freedom has changed a lot,” said Chris Jung, founder and editor-in-chief of Citizen News.

At a news conference on Monday, Yeung said the stand was the impetus for their decision to close what happened to News. Last week, authorities raided the Stand News and arrested seven people, including teachers and former board members who allegedly plotted to publish treasonous material. Stand News announced the same day that it would cease operations.

Two of the arrested former editors of Stand News were later formally charged with treason.

In the summer, authorities forced the closure of the Apple Daily, owned by media mogul and Democrat Jimmy Loy. Loy is currently in jail and was recently charged with treason last week.

Chung Sing Kwang, project manager for the Committee for Independence in Hong Kong, said: “I fear this will turn Hong Kong into a black box and no one will be informed.

Although not contacted by Citizen News officials, he said he felt the closure was forced.

I think the closures in general were basically unintentional because of the fear that they would not be able to make a real and genuine press in the current political climate in Hong Kong, ”said Kwang, a Hong Kong activist who now lives in Germany.

The Publishers Society in Asia, a Hong Kong-based group that presents the annual Press Awards, said on Monday it was concerned about pressure against the independent media in the city.

The United States and other Western governments have condemned the restrictions on the media and civil liberties that Beijing has promised to uphold for 50 years following the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.

Hong Kong President Gary Lam last week backed a test on stand-up news, telling reporters that “provoking others … in the guise of a news report is unforgivable.”

The only independent independent media outlets in the city are the Hong Kong Free Press, an English language news agency, and the Chinese language news agency Inidium, which relocated its headquarters to Singapore in August.

Citizen News likened itself to a small dinghy in rough water.

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

___

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

___

Wu reported from Taipei, Taiwan.