Britain expresses concern over Hong Kong speech rights
Britain expresses concern over Hong Kong speech rights
US says Hong Kong bid to expel Financial Times journalist 'deeply troubling', as activists stage protest
08 October, 2018, 09:39
"It has dealt a severe blow to the city's press freedom, and will greatly affect Hong Kong's image". It recently drew criticism from the authorities for hosting a talk by the leader of a now-banned pro-Hong Kong independence party.
Victor Mallet, Asia news editor for the Financial Times, has had his application to renew his visa rejected, the newspaper said.
In a confrontational speech about China on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence described the country's restrictions on foreign journalists as part of Communist Party efforts to spread censorship.
In this photo, taken August 14, 2018, The Financial Times Asia news editor, Victor Mallet, right, shakes hands with Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong National Party, during a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong'sdecision to effectively blacklist a senior Financial Times journalist required an "urgent explanation", the United Kingdom said yesterday, as foreign governments sounded the alarm over eroding freedoms in the former British colony. "We expect foreign journalists to have this kind of visa rejection happen in China, but it has never happened in Hong Kong because Hong Kong has a tradition until recent years of respect for free speech".
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Semi-autonomous Hong Kong enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland, including freedom of expression which are protected by a handover agreement between China and Britain.
But the space for dissent is shrinking as Beijing flexes its muscles. "Such action is yet another proof that the Chinese authorities are extending their policy of intimidating foreign journalists to the territory of Hong Kong", Reporters Without Borders charged in a fiery statement.
The Hong Kong government had said beforehand that it planned to ban Chan's tiny political party, the Hong Kong National Party, under a colonial-era law that allows the prohibition of groups for reasons of national security, public safety or public order.
No reason was given for the visa denial but some China watchers believe this may be the first time this has happened to a reporter in Hong Kong, a Chinese city that still champions press freedoms.
"This decision is especially disturbing because it mirrors problems faced by global journalists in the Mainland and appears inconsistent with the principles enshrined in the Basic Law".
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"The Hong Kong and Beijing authorities should think again and fast", Patten told AFP. "The Hong Kong authorities' visa renewal rejection - without explanation - of a journalist who's done nothing more than his job smacks of Beijing-style persecution of critics". "We support free press", protesters chanted as they shredded a strip of red fabric to create a long ribbon.
The slogan was in response to comments by Leung, who once said discussion of independence "is an absolute and clear red line".
The decision to deny Mallet a new visa was welcomed by pro-Beijing media in the city, however.
Some pro-establishment politicians backed the government's move, however, saying strong messages had to be sent that Hong Kong had zero tolerance of independence calls, government-funded broadcaster RTHK reported.
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