Hong Kong authorities this week banned more than 13 journalists from covering events marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.
Most important points:
- At least 13 journalists from local and foreign media are barred from events
- Hong Kong authorities have announced road closures and a no-fly zone
- Police have confirmed Xi Jinping will visit the city for the anniversary of the handover
The journalists represent at least seven media outlets, including international news agencies Reuters and Agence France-Presse and several others from Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said in a statement.
“At this important moment, the authorities have made ad hoc and close arrangements for interviews and have put forward vague grounds for refusal, seriously undermining press freedom in Hong Kong,” the statement said.
It said at least 10 journalists have been excluded.
The Hong Kong Economic Journal said at least three other journalists from local news outlets were informed on Wednesday that their applications to cover the July 1 events had been rejected.
Hong Kong police have confirmed that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the city to mark the anniversary of the return of the former British colony under Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.
Mr Xi’s visit will be his first trip outside mainland China since the coronavirus outbreak about two and a half years ago.
Police in Hong Kong, a special semi-autonomous region of China, have announced a series of security measures, including road closures and a no-fly zone.
Strict requirements have been set for visitors to the events.
Journalists must undergo daily COVID-19 nucleic acid testing from last Sunday and stay in a quarantine hotel from Wednesday.
Despite initial approvals, some journalists received a notice of rejection on Wednesday as they made their way to the hotel, while others were barred from the events upon arrival, the Hong Kong Economic Journal said.
The authorities had invited media outlets to submit up to 20 applications to report on the events, including a flag-raising ceremony and the inauguration of Hong Kong’s new government.
But authorities later specified that only one journalist from each outlet could be sent to cover each of the two events.
Local and foreign journalists excluded
Reuters said in a news release that it submitted the names of two journalists to cover the events, and both were rejected.
A Reuters spokesperson said the company is seeking more information about the matter.
Affected media in Hong Kong include the anglophone South China Morning Post, the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao and the online news channel HK01, the journalists’ association said.
The South China Morning Post said in a news report that one of its photographers had been rejected for no reason.
Ming Pao and HK01 did not immediately comment. Agence France-Presse declined to comment and a South China Morning Post spokesperson declined to comment outside of their news release.
The affected media organizations were invited to send other journalists to report on the events, but the replacements must also comply with quarantine and testing requirements, according to the journalists association.
The Information Services Department declined to provide information on the number of journalists who have received accreditation.
It declined to comment on a South China Morning Post report that one of the department’s own photographers was banned from the events.
“The government is seeking a balance as much as possible between the need for media work and security requirements,” the ministry said in a statement.
“We will not comment on the accreditation results of individual organizations and individuals.”