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Honkong & MacauHong Kong Internet media reports that it cannot continue to work under...

Hong Kong Internet media reports that it cannot continue to work under safe conditions and has no choice but to suspend operations


Hong Kong media "Zhongxin" chief writer Yang Jianxing (right) and editor-in-chief Li Yuehua (middle) met with the media on January 3 to explain the decision to stop operations from January 4 (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)
Hong Kong media “Zhongxin” chief writer Yang Jianxing (right) and editor-in-chief Li Yuehua (middle) met with the media on January 3 to explain the decision to stop operations from January 4 (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)

HONGKONG- 

Following the Hong Kong online media “Position News” last Wednesday, after several high-level officers were arrested by police officers from the National Security Office, it ceased operations today. 4 days later, the online media “Zhong Xin”, which was founded by a number of senior media professionals for 5 years, also announced that it will start from Tuesday. Stop functioning.

“Zhongxin” chief author Yang Jianxing said on Monday that the suspension of “Situation News” triggered their decision to suspend operations within a very short period of time, especially after the anti-revision campaign in 2019, the media was caught up in political waves and became the authorities’ rectification. One of the targets, they believe that they cannot continue to work in a situation where they feel safe, and the suspension is a helpless choice.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association feels distressed and regrets the suspension of “Zhongxin”, and believes that the repeated suspension of media organizations will have an incalculable impact on Hong Kong’s reputation.

The National Security Law of the Port Area, which was directly formulated by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, will be implemented late at night on June 30, 2020. A year and a half later, three well-known media organizations with opposing voices, Apple Daily, Position News, and “Zhong Xin” has announced the suspension of operations.

Two online media outlets in Hong Kong have ceased operations in one week

The National Security Office of the Hong Kong Police sent more than 200 police officers to search the “Stance News” office last Wednesday (December 29) and arrested a number of high-level and former high-level personnel, including former chief editor Zhong Peiquan, former acting chief editor Lin Shaotong, and former directors Wu Aiyi, He Yunshi, Fang Minsheng and others, “Stance News” announced that it would cease operations in the afternoon, and all the contents of the website and social media were deleted that night.

Among them, Zhong Peiquan and Lin Shaotong were charged with “conspiracy to publish or copy seditious publications” last Thursday (December 30) and were brought to the West Kowloon Magistracy. They were not released on bail. Tang. The prosecution said that the police will need time to continue the investigation and it is not ruled out that more people will be arrested.

Four days after “Stance News” ceased operations, the online media “Zhong Xin”, which was founded by a number of senior media professionals for 5 years, announced on social media on Sunday (January 2) night and ceased operations on Tuesday (January 4).

After the press conference, the chief writer Yang Jianxing shook hands with the reporters who were present for the interview before returning to the office (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)
After the press conference, the chief writer Yang Jianxing shook hands with the reporters who were present for the interview before returning to the office (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)

Yang Jianxing said the media has been involved in political waves in the past two years

“Zhongxin” chief writer Yang Jianxing and editor-in-chief Li Yuehua met with the media outside the office on Monday (January 3) morning. Yang Jianxing admitted frankly that the suspension of “Stance News” triggered their decision to stop operation within a short period of time, especially in 2019 After the anti-amendment campaign in 1999, the media was caught up in political waves and became one of the targets of the authorities’ rectification.

Yang Jianxing said: “In the past two years, the anti-amendment laws (movements) have been seen by everyone, that is, the political society has undergone considerable changes, with serious divisions and sharp contradictions. The media has been involved in these political giants. Where there is a wave, the media is involved in politics, and some media will also be regarded as the target of rectification, and some may even feel that the entire media will be the target of rectification.”

Yang Jianxing stated that the problem brought up by “Stance News” was the charge of “conspiracy to publish seditious publications.” They worried that they could not grasp the boundaries of law enforcement. They believed that they could not continue to work in a situation where they felt safe.

Yang Jianxing said: “As far as possible, we will not violate the law or the law, but we have not been able to grasp the boundaries of law enforcement very clearly, and we cannot continue to work without feeling safe and secure. Reporter They are all human beings, they will have family members, and they will have friends. Even in an unsafe situation, everyone will feel that they need to think about such issues seriously. I believe that all journalists do not want to be because of their work. In such a dilemma.”

Yang Jianxing said that it is difficult to assess how long the current situation will last, and the suspension is a helpless choice.

Yang Jianxing said: “We all feel that even under the current situation, we think back to what we wanted to do 5 years ago. We think that we have been doing it for 5 years, but we have to do it again. Going on, if we are unable to do the news we want to do, and if everyone is not at ease, to continue doing the news we want to do, it will be a helpless choice to stop the operation.”

"Zhongxin" chief writer Yang Jianxing said that reporters are fearless and fearless and are not afraid to offend some powerful people, but it does not mean that they have to pay the price of freedom (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)
“Zhongxin” chief writer Yang Jianxing said that reporters are fearless and fearless and are not afraid to offend some powerful people, but it does not mean that they have to pay the price of freedom (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)

Journalists are fearless but not at the cost of freedom

Yang Jianxing stated that “Position News” was charged with “conspiracy to publish seditious publications” for publishing some reports and interviews. “Zhongxin” assessed that they may also be guilty of related crimes. In the past, their standards for handling news are now There may be problems, and the boundaries of law enforcement make it difficult for editors to touch.

Yang Jianxing emphasized that being fearless and fearless reporters is not afraid to offend the powerful and consortia, but it does not mean that they will pay the price of freedom.

Yang Jianxing said: “Reporters are fearless and fearless. It means that we are not afraid to offend some powerful and powerful people. We are not afraid to scold the government. That is, if they do wrong policies, we criticize them. We are not afraid to report some consortium news. Our finances Independence, do not worry about our financial pressure, this is fearless, but it does not mean that when it is very basic, that freedom is to pay the price, this is very real, I think it is no matter what Journalists, I believe I don’t want to encounter such a situation.”

The editor-in-chief pointed out that it is difficult to determine whether the objective environment has changed.

Li Yuehua, the editor-in-chief of “Zhongxin”, said that she has always handled journalism with professional judgments. She emphasized that she has never changed this way of working. What has changed is the external objective environment, which makes it difficult for her to grasp the measures of news reporting as the editor-in-chief. As the editor-in-chief, she is responsible to reporters whether it will violate the new regulations.

Li Yuehua said: “It is not us that changed, but the external and objective environment has changed. In this way, as the editor-in-chief of some things, I can’t actually grasp this story, this report, or this sentence, will it? Writing it out violated the regulations under that newly changed environment? If I can’t go and take my reporter with confidence to continue doing it, that is, as the leadership, we are all responsible to reporters. “

Li Yuehua said that the narrowing of press freedom in Hong Kong is already obvious, and she thinks it is difficult to assess the current state.

Li Yuehua said: “The narrowing of freedom of the press is already obvious. I believe you don’t have to ask me and everyone will answer it. What stage do you think you are going to? Because it is impossible for us to do something, it is not as good as I do. Some’safe news’, I don’t know what’safe news’ is, so how to go on in the future is a problem that everyone will face. It is inevitable that the (freedom of the press) will be narrowed.”

Li Yuehua, editor-in-chief of "Zhongxin", said that the external objective environment has changed, and as the editor-in-chief, it is difficult for her to know whether some reports violate the law (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)
Li Yuehua, editor-in-chief of “Zhongxin”, said that the external objective environment has changed, and as the editor-in-chief, it is difficult for her to know whether some reports violate the law (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)

The overall media space is narrowed and it is difficult to report on sharp issues

Yang Jianxing said that he has not been contacted by law enforcement agencies. However, there are direct or indirect messages mentioning some online media, including commentary articles named “Position” and “Zhongxin”. They believe that the overall media space is narrowed and it is difficult to Report sharp issues again.

Yang Jianxing said: “When I saw some articles, or some articles by people with background, it was clear that I would deal with online media. The main thing that came and went was “Stance”, and then it was like “Zhongxin”. So these are evaluated, and if you look at the big environment, you will feel that the space of the entire media is narrowed. If you want to do something, it may be regarded as sharp, or it may be that they have already stepped on the line. ‘, even if the media is’over the line’, the risk is even greater.”

Message to young reporters, don’t give up

Li Yuehua said that every journalist has a different background and situation. She emphasized that “Zhongxin” cannot continue to go on today. It does not mean that individual reporters cannot continue to do so. She sent a message to young reporters not to give up.

Li Yuehua said: “Our assessment today is based on the fact that our “Zhongxin” organization cannot continue. Is it possible for individual reporters to continue to be reporters? I will not answer this way, I will not talk about it like this. I believe that especially young journalists have that heart for Hong Kong and many things. Does he have some space to make some records? I don’t think we should give up or give up on this.”

Li Yuehua, who is also the chief executive of “Zhongxin”, said that more than 40 employees will be dismissed. The last episode of the two programs “Zhongxin China” and “This Day in Hong Kong” will be broadcast on Monday night to bid farewell to readers. It will not be updated after early Tuesday morning, but it will not be closed for the time being, and the company will continue to operate for a period of time to complete the procedures for ending operations.

The new Legislative Council Member Di Zhiyuan said that "Position News" and "Zhong News" have announced the suspension of operations within a few days, causing Hong Kong citizens to worry about freedom of speech and press. He hopes that the police will explain in detail the rationale for law enforcement (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)
The new Legislative Council Member Di Zhiyuan said that “Position News” and “Zhong News” have announced the suspension of operations within a few days, causing Hong Kong citizens to worry about freedom of speech and press. He hopes that the police will explain in detail the rationale for law enforcement (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)

New MP appeals to the police to explain the rationale for law enforcement

The newly sworn-in Legislative Council Member Di Zhiyuan said in response to a question from the Voice of America on Monday that “Position News” and “Zhongxin” have announced the suspension of operations within a few days, causing Hong Kong people to worry about freedom of speech and freedom of the press. He hopes that The department or the police can explain in detail the rationale for law enforcement.

The reporter asked whether the media without independent supervision would worry that Hong Kong would become a “single-talked” society? Di Zhiyuan said that he certainly hopes that Hong Kong society will have multiple voices. He also believes that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are very important forces that promote social progress.

Di Zhiyuan said: “Of course we hope to have multiple voices. Free speech and freedom of the press are very important forces to promote the progress of a society, because often the truth of society, or different perspectives of society, tell us through the media, you Look at whether officials or legislators are good. They watch a lot of news every day in order to grasp the pulse of society. Therefore, it must be as clear as the Basic Law that freedom of speech and freedom of the press must be ensured, so in law enforcement During the process, Hong Kong people must be confident that the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are still guaranteed and not hit.”

Chen Langsheng was shocked by journalists’ imprisonment

Chen Langsheng, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, said in a telephone interview with VOA that affected by the changes in the political environment, there are fewer and fewer media that can speak independently. He believes that in the past eight months, “Apple Daily”, “Situation News” and “Zhongxin” The successive announcements of cessation of operations are a great loss to the citizens’ right to know. He also described that many journalists were accused of not being released on bail as “prisoners”, which was quite shocking.

Chen Langsheng said: “It is very honest that we are all’students’. We read, write, and report. We act in accordance with some very traditional academic journalism principles. We never thought that we would become’prisoners’, even If it is so serious that it cannot be released on bail, the result is shocking. To be honest, it is really shocking. I never thought that this place in Hong Kong used such an arrangement to deal with matters related to reporters.”

Chen Langsheng, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, described it as shocking that multiple journalists have been charged and not released on bail as "prisoners" (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)
Chen Langsheng, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, described it as shocking that multiple journalists have been charged and not released on bail as “prisoners” (Voice of America/Tang Huiyun)

The Records Association deeply regrets the suspension of successive media

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (hereinafter referred to as the Journalist Association) issued a statement on Monday in response to the announcement of the suspension of the operation of the “Zhongxin”. It is deeply saddened and regrettable that the operation of media organizations has been suspended within a week.

The Journalist Association stated that on December 29, “Position News” and two high-level officials were charged with “conspiracy to publish seditious publications.” Within a week, another media organization suspended operations because of concerns about the “chilling effect”.

The Journalist Association stated that Hong Kong is hailed as an “Asian World City”, and the flow of information and freedom of the press are indispensable. Nowadays, media organizations have repeatedly shut down, and the impact on Hong Kong’s reputation is hard to estimate. The HKIA urges the Hong Kong Government to implement the “Basic Law”‘s due protection of the freedom of news and information circulation.

Officials say that news organizations do not need to worry about obeying the law

When asked on Monday by the Secretary for Home Affairs of Hong Kong, Xu Yingwei, when the “Stance News” and “Zhongxin” were suspended successively, he said that the “Basic Law” protects the freedom of the press. He believes that news organizations do not need to worry as long as they abide by the law. Ask them if you have any individual decisions.

As for the progress of legislation to control fake news, Xu Yingwei said that the relevant authorities will explain the legislative direction to the public or the Legislative Council at an appropriate time. He also said that fake information has a great impact on society, including in finance, epidemic prevention and anti-epidemic aspects. Different countries have similar laws. He emphasized that it is not to tighten press freedom, but to protect the importance of speech and correct information. Legislation in this area will take some time, and there is no new progress report.

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