HKJA urges the Hong Kong government to explain why it rejected an Economist reporter’s visa extension

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has learned that the Immigration Department declined granting a visa extension to Hong Kong correspondent for the Economist, Sue-lin Wong. The Immigration Department also refused to give a reason to the rejection other than stating that it would not comment on individual cases. The HKJA believes that the Immigration Department’s response has failed to alleviate worries in the public that Hong Kong’s press freedom is facing yet another assault. As the government repeatedly stated that press freedom is protected in the city, the department should clearly explain why an extension was not granted, and in doing so, prevent the public from speculating on the matter.

The HKJA wishes to reiterate that the foreign press’s coverage of Hong Kong is not only a matter of public interest, it is also a reflection of the city’s international standing. The government should not decline work visa applications to foreign correspondents without proper justification.

The editor-in-chief for the Economist, a British publication, announced on its website yesterday that Wong was notified by the Immigration Department that her work visa was not extended, with no explanation given. This means she will not be able to continue reporting from Hong Kong. The HKJA deeply regrets that a journalist familiar with China and Hong Kong’s context is no longer able to report from the city.

There has been a marked rise in the number of foreign journalists whose visa extensions were rejected without reason. The HKJA is concerned that these are not isolated events, but a tightening grip over foreign media in Hong Kong. The HKJA also believes that it is unfair to both the visa applicants and their employers that their applications were declined without being given a reason.

The HKJA wishes to remind the government that, as an international financial centre, Hong Kong has attracted many foreign media to set up their Asia-Pacific headquarters in the city. We are worried that if it becomes commonplace to reject the visas of foreign correspondents, these media would find their homes in other Asian cities. When that happens, Hong Kong will inevitably lose its shine as an international metropolis – an image that many have spent years building.

Hong Kong Journalists Association
13 November 2021

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