We oppose the proposed amendments to the law that will allow the transfer of “fugitives” from Hong Kong to Mainland China on a case by case basis. It will not only threaten the safety of journalists but also have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Hong Kong.
The government has emphasized that the amendment will not cover charges related to spying and leaking of state secrets which have put two Hong Kong journalists – Ching Cheong and Xi Yang – into mainland jails.
This is, however, far from reassuring. Over the years, numerous journalists have been charged or harrassed by mainland authorities under criminal offences covered by the amendment.
- Officers stormed into the hotel room of Now TV journalist Wong Kar-yu in Sichuan province. She was alleged of drug possession. They searched for four hours, blocking her from interviewing activist Tan Zuoren.
- Wang Jianmin, founder of a political magazine in Hong Kong, was sentenced to jail for various offences including bribery. During the investigation, he was being questioned about details of the writers and sources of articles in his magazine.
- Hong Kong publisher Yao Wentian was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for “smuggling ordinary goods” while preparing a book critical of President Xi Jinping.
- Two Nanfang Daily journalists Hu Yazhu and Liu Weian were charged with accepting bribes by the Shaoguan authorities after exposing corruption among judges and police there.
The amendment will make it possible for mainland authorities to demand the surrender of journalists in Hong Kong, citing all kinds of unfounded charges. It is a sword hanging the head of journalists which will muzzle both journalists and whistleblowers, dealing a further blow to the already limited freedom of speech that Hong Kong still enjoys.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
Independent Commentators Association
Journalism Educators for Press Freedom
Ming Pao Staff Association
Next Media Trade Union
Reporters Without Borders
RTHK Programme Staff Union
Hong Kong Free Press
Local Press Hong Kong
Director, Prof. LEE, Francis L.F., School of Communication and Journalism, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
3 April 2019