Group of Asian publishers worried about shutdown of independent media outlets in Hong Kong


FILE PHOTO: A general view of skyline buildings in Hong Kong, China July 13, 2021. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

MANILA, Philippines – A group of publishers in Asia has raised concerns over the recent shutdown of two independent media outlets in Hong Kong, noting recent pressures on the media sector following the passage of the National Security Act in July 2020.

The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) said in a statement Monday that Stand News and Citizen News mentioned specific circumstances for their closures – in the case of Stand News, after former officials were arrested by police; and Citizen News, to ensure the safety of its staff.

“Last week two independent Hong Kong media outlets, Stand News and Citizen News, shut down; Stand News after former and current executives were arrested by the National Security Police and their assets were frozen; Citizen News announced its closure today, citing the safety of its staff as the reason, ”SOPA said.

“SOPA, the Society of Publishers in Asia, regrets the shutdown of these media outlets, which follows the shutdown of Apple Daily, and notes with concern the increasing pressure on local independent media following the introduction of the national security in July 2020, ”he added.

In a previous report, Citizen News cited the deteriorating media environment in Hong Kong as the reason for its decision to stop publishing. It comes days after senior Stand News executives were arrested for allegedly conspiring to publish seditious material.

READ: Hong Kong Citizen News independent portal says to shut down

READ: Hong Kong police raiding pro-democracy media outlet, arresting six

SOPA pointed out that Citizen News and Stand News are publications that have been cited by them and other peers for their outstanding journalistic quality, winning several awards from SOPA itself.

The group also stressed that Hong Kong, if it is to continue to prosper as a financial hub, needs a free press and authorities that respect free speech.

“Both organizations have been recognized by their editorial peers for the journalistic quality of their work, winning awards and honorable mentions at the annual SOPA Awards, for entries ranging from computer graphics to article writing. Stand News has won 1 award, 4 honorable mentions and 1 finalist in total in its seven years of existence, while Citizen News has received 1 award and 1 honorable mention in its four years of activity, ”said the SOPA.

“The publishing industry in Hong Kong needs a viable independent media sector to thrive, create jobs and support our city as a commercial and financial center. We call on the Hong Kong authorities to respect freedom of speech and of the press which are vital for the success of our industry, ”he added.

Hong Kong has seen a series of protests dating from before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the city, as protesters denounced amendments to the anti-extradition law, which boiled until 2020 when China , which controls the region, has enacted a national law. security bill for Hong Kong.

Since then activists have been arrested, but the Hong Kong government insists it is not targeting activists and the media.

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