Twenty-one governments belonging to the Media Freedom Coalition have issued a joint statement expressing their “deep concern” over Hong Kong authorities’ and the Chinese Community Party’s (CCP) ongoing censorship and suppression of the media of Hong Kong.
While much of the world focuses its attention on the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Hong Kong reels from an aggressive and escalating clampdown on local media. In December, police raided the offices of the independent website Stand News, arresting seven staff and forcing the site to shut down. Then, in January, the independent website Citizen News announced it would fold out of concerns for the wellbeing of its staff in the frayed environment.
The Media Freedom Coalition’s Feb. 8 statement cites the recent raids and clampdowns on local news sources in its denunciation of the erosion of free speech in Hong Kong, charging that the campaign “has eroded the protected rights and freedoms set out in the Basic Law and undermines China’s obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.” The joint declaration is an international treaty governing Hong Kong’s handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, under which Beijing pledged to allow the city freedoms and autonomy not enjoyed in the mainland for a period of 50 years.
Besides wiping out nearly all independent media outlets in the territory, the statement charges, the authorities have done serious harm to Hong Kong’s international reputation.
“A stable and prosperous Hong Kong in which human rights and fundamental freedoms are protected should be in everybody’s interest. We urge Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities to freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Hong Kong, in line with the Basic Law and China’s obligations under the Sino-British joint declaration,” the statement continues.
The statement bears the signatures of the governments of Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.