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Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Hong Kong

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1999
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Hong Kong, February 1999, available at: [accessed 16 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

As of December 31, 1998

An uneasy status quo prevailed during the first full year of Chinese sovereignty after the handover of the former colony by Britain in 1997. Hong Kong journalists are finding a relative lack of openness in the administration of Tung Chee-hwa, the chief executive, but they still enjoy one of the freest presses in Asia.

In the grips of its worst economic downturn in a generation and with China cracking down on free expression in the mainland, Hong Kong remains both the international center for independent Chinese-language journalism and the headquarters for most of the regional media.

Fear of political pressure and signs of an uncharacteristic reticence to ruffle feathers continue to surface, however. In July, television reporter Christopher Leung angrily denounced the failure of China Television Network (CTN) to air a documentary he had produced on ethnic unrest in the Western province of Xinjiang. The documentary, "Crying Wolf," offered a rare glimpse into a little-known Muslim separatist movement in one of China's most remote and forbidden areas. Leung said the piece was killed because CTN, a satellite network owned by Taiwanese and broadcast in Mandarin to Chinese audiences worldwide, caved in to political pressure from Beijing, a charge the network denied. As a result of the controversy, Leung quit his job and returned to the United States, his adopted home.

Local reporters and editors say that self-censorship of issues that might be sensitive to Beijing remains a problem, as it has been for several years, even before the handover. Other concerns are on the horizon. A provision in Hong Kong's Basic Law, which governs the territory as a Special Autonomous Region of China, mandates the eventual drafting of a law punishing "sedition." Journalists and civil libertarians worry that the definition of sedition could make it a crime to publish material related to independence for Tibet or Taiwan – topics that are extremely sensitive to Beijing. Others complain that the government is less accessible than it was during the last years of British rule.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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