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Response From Commissioner’s Office of the Foreign Ministry to FCC Statement on Journalist Visas

In response to the statement by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong on 6 August, the spokesperson of the Commissioner’s Office said that the US has been ramping up political suppression of Chinese media out of the Cold War mentality and ideological bias. The actions by the US have severely disrupted the normal journalistic activities of Chinese media there, tarnished their reputation, and chilled bilateral people-to-people exchanges. While proclaiming itself as a champion of the freedom of the press, the US keeps obstructing Chinese media from doing their job, laying bare its hypocrisy, double standards and hegemonic bullying. If the US is bent on going down the wrong path, China will be compelled to take necessary and just reactions to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests. It is the US that has caused the situation and should be solely responsible for it. We hope FCC, Hong Kong will distinguish right from wrong.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is part of China. The Central Government has the diplomatic authority to take countermeasures against the suppression of Chinese media outlets in the US.

The National Security Law makes it crystal clear that the freedoms of speech, the press and publication of Hong Kong residents will be protected under the law. And the HKSAR Government has also repeatedly reiterated that the law will not erode the institutions that underpin Hong Kong’s success as an international city, including the freedoms of expression and the press, and the free flow of information. Meanwhile, any freedom shall be exercised within legal boundaries, and media outlets are not free from law anywhere in the world. We are firmly against external interference in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs as a whole on the pretext of the freedom of the press.

New Cold War between U.S. and China is a ‘disaster for the world’ – Noam Chomsky

Deteriorating relations between the United States and China have potentially disastrous consequences for the world when global cooperation is needed to fight threats such as COVID-19 and global warming, renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky said Friday in an FCC webinar.

Noam Chomsky talks to Club President Jodi Schneider on August 7, 2020. Noam Chomsky talks to Club President Jodi Schneider on August 7, 2020.

The attempts by the United States to prevent China from developing were cruel and pointless, he said.

“If China develops, we all benefit,” Chomsky said. “If we’re going back to a Cold War between China and the United States, that’s a disaster for the world. This is a moment, more than ever, where we have to have international cooperation. The crises that we face are all international.”

Relations between China and the United States have deteriorated since U.S. President Donald Trump – whom he called “the most dangerous political leader in history” – took office, resulting in a trade war and retaliatory actions against journalists in both countries.

Chomsky, one of the most influential public intellectuals in the world, said China was “trying to reassert its traditional role as the dominant force in Asia”, and the United States “won’t tolerate it”. He then likened the situation to the Mafia.

“The fact is the world is being run very similar to the Mafia.. the Don doesn’t tolerate any interference from states that challenge it, or even states that get out of line,” Chomsky said.

Discussing a range of topics, the author of more than 100 books including Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, addressed the political unrest that gripped Hong Kong in 2019 and said the only way to ease the pressure on Hong Kong to “undermine its democratic procedures, practices and opportunities” was a “reduction of international tensions” between China and the United States.

“It’s always worth remembering the old saying that when the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. Hong Kong is the grass. If the elephants start fighting, Hong Kong is lost.”

“The Hong Kong protests were a major sign of optimism. They didn’t totally succeed but laid the seeds for future progress,” Chomsky added.

The webinar opened with Chomsky’s thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump Administration’s handling of it.

“The United States is basically a wreck,” he said, citing Trump’s dismantling of former President Barack Obama’s preparations against a global health emergency which he said left America “unprepared when the pandemic struck”.

Chomsky went on to warn of future coronavirus pandemics that, intensified by the impact of global warming and habitat destruction, would be even more lethal.

“It could be something like the Black Death,” he said.

Arizona, the state where Chomsky resides and where he is laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, was “now vying for the international record for the highest number of cases per capita”, he said. He accused Trump of “flailing around desperately to find some scapegoat to cover up for the fact that he’s responsible for killing over a hundred thousand Americans”.

Referring to misinformation around the pandemic, he took aim at media organisations such as Fox News for “peddling” misleading messages playing down the seriousness of COVID-19. But Chomsky also lamented the Trump Administration’s rhetoric towards the media as enemies of the people.

“With the media now it’s very scary. When half of Republicans think the government should have the right to close down media it doesn’t like, then that’s dangerous,” he said.

You can watch the entire talk here.

FCC Statement on Journalist Visas in Hong Kong

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is aware of recent examples of delays involving the issuing of visas to foreign journalists in Hong Kong, as well as suggestions by the Chinese government that more foreign journalists could face repercussions in response to U.S. actions. The FCC calls on the Trump administration to lift its restrictions on Chinese media working in the U.S., and on Hong Kong and China’s governments to refrain from retribution in targeting U.S. media and journalists working in Hong Kong.

The FCC opposes using journalists’ visas as a weapon in international disputes and also opposes taking action against journalists for the decisions made by their home countries.

The editor of China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper has suggested American journalists based in Hong Kong will be targeted in retaliation for the Trump administration’s actions against Chinese journalists in the U.S. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned of “necessary and timely countermeasures” in response to “the unreasonable suppression of Chinese media outlets in the U.S.”

In Hong Kong, several media outlets have published reports about delays in issuing new or renewed visas to journalists working in the city. The delays have affected journalists of multiple nationalities and in some cases have prevented journalists from working. The delays are highly unusual for Hong Kong, a city with historically robust press protections.

The FCC has urged the Hong Kong government to clarify the impact of the new national security law on journalists working in the city, and has asked the government to guarantee, among other things, that journalists will be free to continue their work without intimidation or obstruction. So far, Hong Kong authorities have not provided such clarity or guarantees.

This downward spiral of retaliatory actions aimed at journalists helps no one, not least of all the public that needs accurate, professionally produced information now more than ever.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong considers it unfair and self-defeating for China to hold journalists responsible for the actions of the U.S. government. It also condemns the restrictions placed on Chinese journalists in the U.S., who are being singled out unjustifiably for punitive treatment by the Trump administration.

Hong Kong thrives on the free flow of information. Its role as a global financial hub depends on its reputation as an international centre that respects media freedom, eschews censorship and where the population has unfettered access to news and information.

Restricting journalists in Hong Kong by reducing their numbers and interfering with their ability to report freely will damage Hong Kong’s international standing and reputation.

 

FCC Announces New Editor of The Correspondent


FCC Announces New Editor of The Correspondent

August 5, 2020

 

The FCC is pleased to announce that Kate Springer has been appointed editor of the club’s magazine, The Correspondent.

 

Kate brings a depth of publishing experience and a commitment to further improve the content of the quarterly magazine. She takes over from Sue Brattle, who is leaving Hong Kong. She starts immediately and will edit the magazine’s October issue.

 

During her journalism career in Hong Kong, Kate has contributed to regional and international magazines including Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic, Vogue and Tatler. A writer and editor, she has founded her own content agency. She is also the managing editor of Ariana, a Hong Kong-based publication focused on social justice issues, and the Hong Kong and Macau correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.

 

Established in 1975, The Correspondent is distributed globally as a magazine at the forefront of reporting from Hong Kong. Its content covers club news, press freedom issues, speaker events, and lifestyle aspects including food and beverage. The magazine is available to members online and in print.

 

We’re in a moment of global retreat for democracy and freedom – Suzanne Nossel

The removal of pro-democracy books from Hong Kong libraries following the implementation of the national security law was alarming, says the author of a new book on free speech.

Suzanne Nossel told an FCC webinar that PEN America – a non-profit organisation that defends free expression and of which she is CEO – had been documenting events in the city in recent years and that she was saddened to see Hong Kong’s “vibrant intellectual life… steadily shut down”.

The author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All, noted that we are in “a moment of global retreat for democracy and freedom”, naming other countries, including the Philippines where freedom of speech and press freedom under threat. Maria Ressa, a regular FCC speaker and founder of the news website Rappler, is currently appealing a conviction for cyber libel there.

The effect of the ongoing encroachment on free expression in Hong Kong would inevitably make it difficult to sustain any space for open dialogue in the city, she added.

In her book, Nossel addresses call outs, cancel culture, cultural appropriation, online content moderation, how to address hateful speech, and why we need to do more to amplify lesser heard voices. She outlines principles for how curb hate speech while protecting freedom of speech. One example is how to apologise having published or spoken a controversial opinion that has offended others.

“A genuine apology can go a long way and it should count for a lot,” she said, touching on the current trend of cancel culture that has resulted in the resignations of several high-profile media figures responsible for publishing controversial op-eds.

Nossel, who served in the Obama and Clinton administrations, criticised President Donald Trump for his inflammatory rhetoric around race and women, and addressed the “catalytic sea change” among Americans, sparked by the death of George Floyd.

You can watch the video here

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