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Chinese State-linked Newspaper Brands Hong Kong Journalist Association as ‘Anti-China,’ Calls for Its Disbandment

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: April 27, 2022
Protesters hold signs as they gather in the center of Kingston upon Thames in London on January 9, 2022 to demonstrate against the “dramatic deterioration of press freedom” in Hong Kong. (Image: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

A newspaper backed by the Chinese regime has called on a prominent journalists’ association in Hong Kong to disband, criticizing the organization for its “anti-China” reporting on issues such as human rights and press freedom. 

Writing in the Wen Wei Po newspaper, pro-Beijing lawmaker Edward Leung called the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) “a suspected anti-China organization that disrupts Hong Kong,” and that the entity should be viewed as a political organization disguised as a media outlet.

“The HKJA is fighting against the reality of Chinese rule in Hong Kong,” Leung wrote in his op-ed piece for the Communist Party-aligned paper, branding the outlet as an anti-patriotic platform aiming to “incite fake journalists in spreading rumors and inciting violence.”

Hong Kong’s independent press’ under attack

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) labels all political opposition in Hong Kong as rejecting Chinese sovereignty over the former British colony, with the aim being to break off the city from China. 

In June 2020, Beijing imposed the far-reaching national security law in Hong Kong after months of major pro-democracy protests in 2019 sparked accusations from activists and human rights groups that China was attacking rights and freedoms it previously guaranteed as part of Hong Kong’s handover from Great Britain.

The national security law mandates a maximum of life imprisonment for speaking out against the Chinese regime or other expressions “deemed dangerous.”

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The HKJA has previously been a vocal critic of police restrictions against journalists and freedom of speech, to which Leung responded that “trouble-making organizations in Hong Kong must be held responsible for the damage they have caused.” He added that “dissolution is the only solution for the HKJA.” 

“If the HKJA thinks that it can continue to destroy Hong Kong with the support of foreign forces, then it’s on a fool’s errand,” the op-ed read.

Press photographers take pictures of signs placed by journalists at the liaison office of the “Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administration Region”, during a protest in Hong Kong on September 13, 2009 over alleged police brutality towards three of their colleagues covering attacks on Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region. (Image: ANTONY DICKSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Leung’s remarks come at a time when several of Hong Kong’s journalists, activists and independent press outlets have faced a series of attacks and censorship at the hands of Chinese police. 

In December of last year, Stand News, a Hong Kong pro-democracy media outlet was shut down after its office was raided by police and its assets frozen over offenses of “seditious publication” in a round of crackdowns against the city’s media outlets. 

During the raid, police also arrested seven people affiliated with the outlet, including deputy assignment editor Ronson Chan, acting chief editor Patrick Lam, former editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen, and former director and chief science editor Chow Tai-chi.

Many have pointed out that the Chinese regime’s attacks on Hong Kong’s press freedom and the enactment of the National Security Law are in direct contradiction of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration — whereby China promised to guarantee Hong Kong’s civil liberties for at least 50 years after the UK returned the city back to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997. 

On Jan. 5, Chow Hang-tung, a vocal pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong was sentenced to 15 months in prison for “inciting an unauthorized assembly” to commemorate the victims who died in China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square. 

Since the national security law was enacted, more than 160 people such as Chow have been arrested, including activists and journalists from various pro-democracy outlets.