freedom index pers Reporters Without Borders Annual Notes Hong Kong 148th place in the world for freedom of the press. This position has fallen sharply by almost 70 places within a year.
The decrease is said to be an impact of the implementation of the National Security Law, which was implemented in 2020.
Hong Kong security forces have forced the closure of more than three media outlets since 2020. Some voluntarily turn off their media to avoid the risk of a security clearance. A number of journalists and media executives were also arrested under the ordinance.
Hong Kong was once a bastion of press freedom in Asia. Two decades ago, Hong Kong ranked 18th in terms of press freedom. That ranking rose after 2014 and 2019, when massive pro-democracy protests erupted.
The World Asian Cities ranking is now even below the Philippines, Sri Lanka and several notches above Turkey and India.
Hong Kong Chairwoman Carrie Lam has commented on the assessment of press freedom
“This in itself is a very good indication of the spirit of press freedom in Hong Kong,” Lam said.
Lam then said, “As I said before, in many cases, particularly in the passage of the National Security Act, journalists and media organizations are not above the law.”
The law punishes activities considered high treason, terrorism, foreign collusion and secession with life imprisonment.
Hong Kong Free Press editor-in-chief Tom Grundy said Lam’s efforts are not the best way to measure press freedom.
“The number of government-registered news agencies is not an indicator of the quality of press freedom in Hong Kong,” Grundy said.
Most media outlets in Hong Kong are directly owned by Beijing, Chinese conglomerates or those with business interests in China. He admits that Hong Kong’s freedom of the press is waning, that’s undeniable.
In August 2020, more than 100 officers raided the offices of the pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily and arrested the media’s owner, Jimmy Lai. Then in September 2020, Hong Kong Television (RTHK) radio journalist Bao Choy was arrested for allegedly providing false information.
In the same month, radio journalist Wang Yiu-sing, his assistant and his wife were arrested on charges of instigating and financing secessionist activities. Then, in December 2020, Lai and two other Apple Daily executives were arrested again for fraud.
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