It will close the Hong Kong news site; pro-Beijing lawmakers swore
The founders of the Citizen News channel said the news site will no longer be published on Tuesday. Although they have not received any closure orders, they said on Monday that the deterioration of media freedoms in the financial center put them in an impossible position.
The point of sale is the third to close in recent months, following the closure of the region’s latest pro-democracy print newspaper, Apple Daily, and the online site Stand News.
Citizen News was founded in 2017 by a group of veteran journalists. The small site focused on political news and analysis pieces, as well as research, and in recent months has become a haven for many journalists who had lost their jobs when other outlets closed or closed. they faced other pressures.
“With the sudden closure of Apple Daily last summer, journalism specialists who originally had to do internships with them, Citizen News made arrangements to welcome them so that students would not miss this internship opportunity.” , said Vivian WW Tam, a senior professor at the School of Journalism at Hong Kong University of China, in a public post on Facebook. Tam refused to be interviewed.
But a new National Security Act, imposed in Hong Kong by China’s Central Legislature, has made independent reporting increasingly dangerous. The law has detained journalists and political activists and forced the dissolution of civil rights groups and trade unions. Many more activists have fled.
Meanwhile, new laws have changed the way Hong Kongers vote for their representatives, including the requirement that anyone seeking office must be “patriotic,” effectively putting the body under Beijing’s control.
“What we understood about press freedom has changed a lot,” said Chris Yeung, founder and chief writer of Citizen News.
Yeung told a news conference on Monday that the trigger for his decision to close was what happened to Stand News. Authorities attacked Stand News last week and arrested seven people, including editors and former board members, for allegedly conspiring to publish seditious material. Stand News announced the same day it would stop working.
Two of the former Stand News editors who were arrested were formally charged with sedition.
In the summer, authorities forced the closure of Apple Daily, the newspaper owned by media mogul and democracy activist Jimmy Lai. Lai is currently in jail and was charged with sedition last week.
“I am afraid that this will turn Hong Kong into a black box, that no one will be informed,” said Chung Ching Kwong, project director of the Hong Kong Committee on Freedom.
He said that although Citizen News had not been contacted by authorities, he considered the closure forced.
“I think the closures in general … are basically involuntary because there is a fear that they will not be able to do real and genuine journalism in today’s Hong Kong political environment,” said Kwong, a Hong Kong activist who he now lives in Germany.
The Society of Publishers in Asia, a Hong Kong-based group that hosts an annual journalism award, also said Monday that it is concerned about pressure on independent media in the city.
The United States and other Western governments have condemned the limits on the media and civil liberties that Beijing pledged to maintain for 50 years after the surrender of Hong Kong in 1997.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defended the Stand News attack last week, telling reporters that “inciting other people … could not be tolerated under the guise of intelligence.”
The only independent media outlets in the city are Hong Kong Free Press, an English-language news outlet, and Initium, a Chinese-language news outlet that moved to Singapore in August, but still has staff in the city.
Citizen News was compared to a small boat in choppy waters.
“In the midst of a beer storm, we found ourselves in a critical situation. In the face of a crisis, we need to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone on board,” he said. .
This story has been updated to correct that the National Security Act was passed in 2020, not 2019.
Wu reported from Taipei, Taiwan.