The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is deeply concerned by reports that some media outlets have been restricted from covering official events around the inauguration of Chief Executive-designate John Lee and the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.
At least 10 journalists working for local and international publications had their applications to cover the events rejected for “security reasons,” with no further information provided, according to media reports and comments from our members.
This follows reports that several local and international outlets were not given the chance to apply for accreditation for the events in the first place.
In the past, similar official events were open to media registration without invitation or vetting.
The 25th anniversary of the handover, the inauguration of a new chief executive and the possible visit of a state leader together comprise a seminal event in the history of Hong Kong, and a moment deserving of widespread coverage in the international and local media.
Hong Kong’s government has repeatedly told the public that Hong Kong’s right to press freedom and free speech – enshrined in the city’s Basic Law – still exists.
The FCCHK views these restrictions – enforced without detailed explanation – as a serious deviation from that stated commitment to press freedom.
The FCCHK urges the government to immediately reconsider the restrictions to allow all outlets to cover this significant story.
FCC Statement on the Deaths of Journalists in Ukraine
The deaths of at least four journalists covering the war in Ukraine as of this writing is a sobering reminder of the dangers all journalists face when covering conflict and trying to provide truthful, independent reporting to the world.
Ukrainian photojournalist Yevhenii Sakun was killed in an attack on the Kyiv TV Tower on March 1. American documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud was killed at a checkpoint in Irpin on March13. Irish photojournalist Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian freelancer Oleksandra Kuvshynova, working for Fox News, were killed when their vehicle came under fire in Horenka. Other journalists have been injured.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong extends its condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the slain journalists, and wishes those wounded a speedy recovery. We also urge all combatants to respect the neutrality of the journalists in the field. Journalists and their newsrooms covering the war in Ukraine should exercise the utmost caution, which includes attention to the safety of their locally hired drivers, translators, freelancers and stringers, who are often the most exposed to danger during conflicts.
We also would urge news organizations not to send or rely on inexperienced journalists or freelancers who lack the proper protective equipment and hostile environment training for covering conflicts.
The FCC does not normally comment on events far from our geographic home, but many of those covering the Ukraine conflict are our friends and colleagues, some who are normally based here in Hong Kong.
Besides the clear and immediate danger of reporting from a war zone, journalists in Russia now face the threat of imprisonment from the Russian government’s new “fake news law” that criminalises truthful reporting with potential prison sentences of up to fifteen years. The FCC is deeply concerned about the implications of such a draconian law, which has led many international news outlets to withdraw staff from Russia, just as we are concerned about such laws elsewhere, and about European Union countries blocking access to state-controlled Russia Today and Sputnik.
While this conflict in Ukraine has produced a tsunami of disinformation on both sides, the FCC believes that societies are best served by a free flow of information, and that informed citizens can determine for themselves fact from falsehood. Shutting down any news outlets sets a dangerous precedent that other authoritarian regimes may use.
We recognize that disinformation swirling on the internet is a problem worldwide. We believe the best solution lies not with new laws, but with more support for legitimate news organizations engaged in truthful, fact-based reporting.
Obituary: Robin Lynam – ‘He put the “Gentle” Into Gentleman’
By Andrew Dembina
“Van Morrison’s playing reminds us that he used to be quite a sharp acoustic guitarist… a welcome inclusion on an engaging, enthusiastic but inessential set.” So concluded an incisive review of a then new CD called The Skiffle Sessions, published in the May 2000 issue of HMV’s now defunct magazine The Voice, penned by the late long-time Hong Kong resident and part of the furniture at the FCC’s Main Bar for decades: Robin Piers Lynam.
While pulling no punches in his music writing – mostly on rock, jazz and blues – for a great many publications, Lynam reached his conclusions via a wide, long-accrued knowledge that was closely rivaled by his in-depth understanding of food and (alcoholic) drink, another of his preferred areas of focus as a contributing writer.
While he would often tell it like he saw it in media or social gatherings, Lynam was not one to put someone down for the sake of it – generally, that is. On occasion, I recall him reaching boiling point when a know-it-all at a media gathering veered into verbose overdrive – or, even worse, got a fact wrong.
Anyone who knew him well loved this acerbic side of the otherwise exceptionally courteous, intelligent and witty Lynam. He “put the ‘gentle’ into gentleman” was one of the most apt tributes to appear on the Facebook page of Karin Malmstrom, his long-term partner, following his premature passing in the early hours of 20 February. A struggle with prostate cancer which shifted to his colon, bouts of chemotherapy and finally, ensuing surgical procedures were to take an accumulated toll. Appreciative remarks about Lynam, in social media and elsewhere, also expressed shock that he was gone far too soon, having just turned 63.
Despite illness hampering his activities for a while, Lynam had managed to catch up with his good friend and host of a longstanding Christmas get-together, Chris Davis, editor of Banking Today, in Hong Kong. “Lynam was a great pal for more than 30 years – it was not unusual to see each other two or three times each week,” he says. “He and Karin joined us for our journos’ and friends’ Christmas lunch for 20 years or more.
“Last year, he had to see us just before that lunch, as he couldn’t be exposed to many people [in his condition]. Previously, he was always the first to arrive and last to leave – his conversation was always as eloquent on his first glass as it was after his third bottle. With a pithy comment, he could say or write in one sentence what might take others 1,000 words.
“They both also played music at my wedding party in 2005. I miss him so much – he was one of my closest friends.”
Davis travelled on a number of press trips over the years, which were made all the more colourful for Lynam’s presence. One of Davis’ fondest memories is when “as someone with absolutely no interest whatsoever in sport – he actually went to the Rugby World Cup in Australia [in 2003], which I was also attending. He’d said ‘no thanks’ to the invitation from the PR company at first, but then they told him there would be some wine to try.” That changed Lynam’s mind and they had a great time – even at the rugby games.
Lynam was born in London in February 1959. Both his father and brother served in the British armed forces and he spent part of his early childhood in Tripoli, Libya, while his father was posted there. Family bonds were strong. “Robin was very close to his mum and dad,” says Malmstrom, “and he adored his [late] brother Jeremy [who was stationed in Hong Kong for some years].” Lynam attended Dulwich College Prep School and Cranbrook School, before moving to University College London to study English literature. He was also very fond of his cousin, the English actress Jenny Agutter, who he would occasionally see in London.
“My best memory of Robin is through knowing him as a child,” recalls Agutter, who was six years his senior. “Spending time with him over many years, I think always of his warmth and humour. When my husband and I visited Hong Kong, we had the benefit of his wealth of knowledge about food, and the joy of discovering great restaurants with him. I loved being in his company.”
Bernie Kingston, a young tutor at Cranbrook when Lynam was there, recalls: “He told me that he played guitar, and I told him I had always been fond of The Shadows and could play Apache note-perfect, so for fun we formed Bernie and The Jets, which may have been his first band.”
British TV presenter Sankha Guha, who studied at UCL at the same time, says: “Lynam was one of my closest friends over the years and across continents. From the moment we met, we plotted the hijacking of the university newspaper together.”
Upon arrival in 1982 in Hong Kong, Lynam’s first work was for Hong Kong Tatler and Hong Kong Business magazines. The editor of Tatler at that time, Steve Knipp, recalls his impression of the budding contributor: “a lovely guy, he was a true Edwardian-era English gent.
“As our arts and culture correspondent, he penned a stack of insightful, beautifully written film and book reviews, plus profiles of visiting jazz musicians.
“Lynam told me he had zero interest in ever taking a fixed staff post. I think installing him in a petite office cubicle would have been like trying to put a seagull in a birdcage – very noisy, quite messy and short-lived.
“Later, when I joined Travel & Leisure, I sent him on trips, including to then-exotic Shanghai on an old rust-bucket coastal liner. He loved it.”
While Knipp agrees with the consensus that Lynam was a kind and gentle fellow, he recalls some fearless tendencies: “On a press trip to Spain, he and I found ourselves in a dingy waterfront dive in Barcelona, well past midnight. The scruffy, unshaven barman looked like a super-sized Tony Soprano. Lynam smiled at him and said something in debauched Spanish; the scowling barman walked away, returning a minute later with two glasses and a bottle of sparkling white Cava wine.
“Lynam poured two glasses, sniffed his, then instantly held up his hand, waving to the brute behind the bar. I feverishly asked what the problem was. He glanced at me through the gloom and said, ‘Mr Knipp, as a colonial American, you may not be aware of this, but our wine has clearly not been properly chilled. The barman must bring us another bottle, promptly, and at the proper temperature.’
“Thankfully, I was able to convince him to let this late-night barbarism slide.”
Malmstrom, a strategic advisor to Cotton Council International who arrived in Hong Kong in 1980, met Lynam at the FCC. They became a romantic item in 1996, having both worked together planning events on club committees when she was Second Vice President. “At that time, one of his Mind Your Head bandmates retired and they invited me to join [playing an electric blue violin]. Being in his company sparked so much happiness.
“He was always so thoughtful,” she continues, describing their blossoming as a couple. “He made me feel very appreciated. He would surprise me with all sorts of information, insights about so many topics, especially arcane facts about 1960s and 1970s musicians and old movies.”
The couple enjoyed travel but with different preferences: “He was used to five-star hotels, I didn’t mind a backpacker hostel,” Malmstrom says. “We met in the middle and enjoyed years of globetrotting. He loved Paris and each time we visited he insisted on making a pilgrimage to Harry’s New York Bar [known for its live jazz, as much as its cocktails].”
Other journeys took them to North Korea, Cuba and the Blues Highway from Chicago to New Orleans – in time for its annual jazz festival. “We were fortunate to squeeze in possibly the best trip – just before Covid hit two years ago – when we lazily cruised aboard The Strand Hotel’s luxury riverboat on the Irrawaddy.
Lynam was formerly married to Gillian Smith “and they have remained good friends throughout the years,” says Malmstrom.
And how would Malmstrom most want Lynam remembered? “He was a kind, clever and caring soul whose wit and humour filled people’s lives with joy,” she replies, which seems spot-on – as long as some fool was not spouting nonsense within earshot for too long.
FCC Statement on the Arrest of Journalist Fahad Shah
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is concerned about the arrest of Kashmir journalist Fahad Shah under India’s anti-terrorism law. Shah, who is the founding editor of The Kashmir Walla, was awarded the 25th Human Rights Press Awards in 2021 in explanatory feature writing for his coverage of the Delhi communal violence. He was arrested on Friday for allegedly uploading anti-national content.
Press freedom in the region has deteriorated since Indian prime minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s special status in 2019. Journalists seen as critical of the government are increasingly being called into questioning and the of the Kashmir Press Club has been shut down. The FCC urges authorities to respect the right of journalists to work freely and safely in the region.
The following is a statement from The Kashmir Walla’s editorial board on Shah’s arrest:
Fahad Shah, the founding editor of The Kashmir Walla, has been remanded to 10 days custody by judicial Magistrate Pulwama Saturday.
He was arrested Friday by the police at the Pulwama Police station after he was called to submit a statement in an on-going investigation launched after The Kashmir Walla published the reports on events at a gunfight in the south Kashmir district on 29 January 2020. Since 31 January when Shah was summoned for questioning, he has co-operated with the police investigation.
Shah, the 33-year-old who founded The Kashmir Walla in 2009, was arrested under FIR 19/2022, with charges of sedition and the anti-terror law. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.
In a press statement, the police identified Shah among “Facebook users” who “are uploading such posts which tantamount to glorifying the terrorist activities and causing dent to the image of law enforcing agencies besides causing ill-will [and] disaffection against the country.”
Speaking with a national news-wire, Kashmir police chief, Vijay Kumar said: “Accused Fahad Shah has been arrested on the basis of one of the three FIRs lodged against him for frequently glorifying terrorism, spreading fake news, & instigating people, for the past 3-4 years.”
Kumar further added that there are currently three cases registered against Shah. He clarified that Shah was arrested under FIR in Pulwama police station. Other two FIRs stand in police stations of Safakadal, in Srinagar, and Imamsahib, in Shopian.
Shah’s arrest comes on the heels of the imprisonment of another Kashmir Walla staffer Sajad Gul. Gul was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) a day after he was granted bail by District Court Bandipora. He is currently imprisoned in Kot Bhalwal jail, in Jammu.
Under Shah’s decade-long leadership, The Kashmir Walla sailed through the devastating floods of 2014, the clampdown of August 2019, after New Delhi revoked the region’s limited-autonomy, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shah’s writing on identity conflict and human rights has featured in reputed international magazines, including Foreign Affairs, TIME, and Foreign Policy. He was awarded the prestigious 25th Human Rights Press Awards 2021 in explanatory feature writing for his coverage of Delhi communal violence in February 2020.
Shah was bed-ridden and was on medication for severe cough and fever since 31 January. The Kashmir Walla has reposed its faith in judiciary and hope that Shah would be taken care of accordingly and supremacy of law will prevail.
The team stands in solidarity with Shah and his family at this time of distress and remains committed to providing reliable and on-ground reporting from Kashmir and appeals to Manoj Sinha-led Jammu and Kashmir administration for the immediate release of Shah and Gul. We hope both of them will join us back in the newsroom soon.
FCCC: Foreign Press Face ‘Unprecedented Hurdles’ In Covering China
Foreign journalists in China face growing threats of harassment and intimidation, while news organizations there are operating at drastically reduced staffing levels, according to an annual report on working conditions by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.
“As the number of journalists forced out by the Chinese state grows, covering China is increasingly becoming an exercise in remote reporting,” according to the club’s report published Monday. “With China pulling out all the stops for the Olympic Games, the FCCC is troubled by the breakneck speed by which media freedom is declining in China.”
In November, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong published its own survey of members on press freedom in Hong Kong. That survey can be found here.
Christopher Hunter: A Man of Conviction and Faith
By Patrick Dransfeld
Christopher Hunter – publisher, journalist, scholar of Chinese, father of Jessica and son of Gillian and Frederic – passed away at the age of 57 at home in Berkhamsted, England on 21 November 2021. Chris, who lived in Hong Kong from 1987 to 2016, had been suffering from multiple sclerosis for over 25 years and donated his body for research in the hope of providing relief for future sufferers.
Everybody who met Chris remembers him. He was an active and vocal participant in many social activities. Chris was an early member of the Community Church of Hong Kong and a regular worshipper. The Chinese and Hong Kong legal community owes Chris a great deal as he was a key figure in the development and propagation of Chinese law through his work as editor of China Law & Practice in the 1990s, his work for the Financial Times in Nanjing in the 2000s and as co-founder and director of Vantage Asia Publishing. The magazine China Business Law Journal that Chris founded and edited continues to thrive.
Some of the tributes which have been paid to Chris are reproduced here:
“Chris Hunter was a unique individual: thoughtful, incisive and unafraid to offer a trenchant opinion,I was very fortunate to benefit from his tremendous knowledge of Chinese law, language and culture. As a colleague at Asia Law & Practice in the mid-1990s, he was loyal, industrious and committed. Beneath his quirky sense of humour, there was often a serious and sometimes valuable message. A man of conviction and faith, what he occasionally lacked in tact he more than made up for with his integrity and honesty. He will be much missed.”
—Dominic Carman, former Managing Director of Asia Law & Practice
“The world is a smaller place without Chris Hunter. I first met Chris at a Student Christian Movement debate in Leeds during the spring of 1983. I recall that he took great delight in sharing biting wit during a particularly heated debate. Our working relationship began with Euromoney’s Asia Law & Practice where we collaborated on several publications: I think my best time in publishing was working with Chris on “The China Patient” (1999) and “Life and Death of a Dotcom in China” (2005). When I left Euromoney, Chris gave me a DVD of the Bill Murray comedy ‘The Man Who Knew Nothing.’ I am still puzzling about that.”
—Patrick Dransfield, Leeds University Alumni and colleague at Asia Law & Practice.
“Chris was a boss, mentor and most of all, a friend. My first taste of his unorthodox approach to life came when he interviewed me for a job at Asia Law & Practice. “What would you think if I fired you?” was one of the first questions he asked. Somehow, I got the job, managed not to get fired, and Chris became my mentor in the world of legal publishing. A combination of my fledgling sales skills and his amateur interest in sales psychology gave rise to some unconventional sales techniques. A memorable example was when Chris attempted to use reverse psychology to sell a sponsored article to one of Asia’s top restructuring lawyers by telling him he was not up to the job of writing it.
Ten years later, I sought Chris’ mentorship again when I started my own venture – Vantage Asia – in which Chris subsequently became a partner. His presence gave me the confidence to strike out on my own, while his intellect, analytical mind and talent for finding faults in just about everything made him a fantastic sounding board for ideas. His quirky sense of humour and boisterous laugh eased the pain of getting a new business up and running. We all miss him immensely.”
—James Burden, Director, Vantage Asia
Chris joined the Financial Times in 1999 with a brief to improve relationships at an FT venture in Nanjing. Chris’ business acumen, knowledge of Chinese culture and language, unflustered approach and determination delivered results. We held one-to-one meetings with principals from our Chinese partner in Beijing – with Chris translating – and the direct approach meant we could dispense with some middle-men, saving money and ensuring clearer communication. Chris then tackled on-the-ground issues in Nanjing, improving relationships with the onsite management, local staff and the handful of young Westerners the FT had contracted. His key victory was persuading the partner to provide better accommodation for the Westerners.
Chris analysed the 40-person operation that FT was running. He helped develop and then execute our strategy of positive engagement, with the goal of exiting the project when the contract came up for renewal. He managed this skilfully with the partnership ceasing without rancour in 2001. Chris left the FT to pursue other ventures shortly afterwards.
Over four years Chris’ time in Nanjing was sometimes challenging as MS began to impact him. He identified a skilled number-two to be the key local liaison in Nanjing and reduced the frequency and length of his trips. He also made trips to FT’s London HQ and our divisional office in the New Forest.
I remember his good humour in dealing with often prickly negotiations and the trouble he went to in building personal relationships in Nanjing. His karaoke rendition of a famous (I’m told) love duet with a senior female official in Nanjing still lives in my mind and won massed applause from the audience. It was clear the staff, locals and Westerners, admired and respected him.
Chris developed my interest in Chinese history by taking me to sites in Nanjing – the wall and city gates, Yangtze bridge and nearby Sun Yet Sen mausoleum – and in Shanghai and Beijing. He was a cheerful and well-informed guide and always keen to cover elements that UK history ignores.
—Adrian Clarke, Former Director of FT Electronic Publishing
“Rest in peace, Chris. You were a very sharp mind let down prematurely by an uncooperative body. I have much to thank you for and hope you now enjoy your freedom from physical constraints!”
A memorial service will be held for Chris Hunter in Hong Kong at 6pm on 20 January. The service will be held in the Community Church of Hong Kong (1/F, J+ Building, 35-45B Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan). This will be followed by a memorial dinner at the FCC. (Further details from Tom Cohen: [email protected] )
Photo of Christopher Hunter courtesy of James Burden, Director, Vantage Media.
2021 in Review: Our Most Popular Guest Speakers on YouTube
Unsurprisingly, some of our events have gained a lot of traction on YouTube. These are the most popular ones that took place in 2021.
#1: Eric X. Li
Views: 143,985 and counting
#2: Marianna Spring
Views: 2,112 and counting
#3: Barkha Dutt and Rana Ayyub
Views: 2,065 and counting
#4: Regina Ip
Views: 1,641 and counting
#5: Fareed Zakaria
Views: 1,285 and counting
#6 (tie): Henry Litton
Views: 1,211 and counting
#6 (tie): Hans van de Ven
Views: 1,211 and counting
#8: Cheng Huan
Views: 1,176 and counting
#9: Fuchsia Dunlop
Views: 1,034 and counting
#10: Dr. Li Shan
Views: 910 and counting
2021 in Review: The Year in FCC Zoom Events
For the second year in a row, the FCC wasn’t able to host as many in-person events featuring guest speakers as we normally would due to the ongoing pandemic. Fortunately, we made up for it with our ongoing series of Zoom events featuring notable guests from around the globe, including diplomats, authors, judges, and journalists such as Bob Woodward, Fareed Zakaria and Evan Osnos.
In total, we hosted more than three dozen Zoom events this year, so scroll down to see the lineup and watch videos of those you may have missed.
February 9: ‘Social Media Bans’ Panel
Freedom of expression has its limits when it comes to spreading falsehoods and promoting real-world violence, a panel of experts including Maria Ressa, Craig Silverman and Alejandro Reyes said during this Zoom event.
February 22: ‘Myanmar on the Edge’ Panel
In a pre-dawn operation on February 1, Myanmar’s military moved to take control of the government, detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected officials in a coup. In the aftermath, the FCC hosted a discussion on Myanmar with Ai Fowle, Manny Maung and Wai Wai Nu.
During Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency, legendary investigative journalist and author Bob Woodward produced two best-selling books that pulled back the curtain on the often chaotic inner workings of the administration. The FCC invited Woodward to discuss his reporting process, the final days of the Trump presidency and much more.
February 26: Dr. Li Shan
In his first public remarks since the formation of the Bauhinia Party in March 2020, party chairman Li Shan said he wanted the new political party to bridge Hong Kong’s blue-yellow divide to solve the city’s pressing social problems.
March 4: Esther Chan
Governments and journalists both have a role to play in combating the spread of COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation, First Draft APAC Bureau Editor Esther Chan said In a virtual workshop hosted by the FCC.
March 8: Carmela Fonbuena
“If we don’t fact-check information that’s spreading on the ground, that’s what people will believe if no one corrects it,” journalist Carmela Fonbuena said while discussing her latest book, Marawi Siege: Stories From the Front Lines.
March 9: Elizabeth Becker
Three pioneering women correspondents — Frances FitzGerald, Catherine Leroy and Kate Webb — changed the nature of modern war reporting and even the course of history with their coverage of the Vietnam War, Elizabeth Becker said in this FCC book event.
March 16: Fuchsia Dunlop
English food writer and cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop, an expert in Sichuan cuisine, recognised the importance of calling out cultural appropriation but also highlighted the benefits of intercultural exchange during a Zoom webinar hosted by the FCC. “I don’t think the solution is that you should be confined to the food from your own heritage,” Dunlop said.
March 18: Bay Fang
Publicly-funded news organisations require firm protections from political influence in order to maintain editorial independence and avoid becoming propaganda units, said Bay Fang, president of Radio Free Asia, in a Zoom webinar hosted by the FCC.
March 23: Te-Ping Chen
Journalism and fiction are, by definition, opposite forms of writing, but as writer Te-Ping Chen explained in a book talk hosted by the FCC, the two aren’t as different as you might think. “In some ways, [writing] fiction and journalism is a similar process in as much as you are taking the material at hand,” Chen said, “except with fiction, the material at hand you can just draw from, in so many ways, a deeper universe around you.”
March 24: ‘Asian Hate in America’ Panel
The mass shooting in Atlanta that took the lives of six women of Asian descent is another tragic event in the United States’ long history of anti-Asian violence and discrimination, three Asian American women writers and journalists — Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, Jiayang Fan and Michelle He Yee Lee – said in a panel hosted by the FCC.
March 26: Sarah Frier
Instagram is typically thought of as a lighthearted platform for posting food photos and looking at your friends’ vacations snaps, but as Bloomberg journalist Sarah Frier, author of No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, explained in an FCC Zoom talk, it’s also rife with misinformation and illegal activity.
March 29: ‘Belt and Road at a Crossroads’ Panel
Nearly eight years after it was first announced, the Belt and Road Initiative has a mixed record of successes and failures, but the panelists who participated in a discussion hosted by the FCC said that greater transparency from China and better decision-making from its partner countries were both necessary for the BRI to move forward in a positive direction.
April 7: Christopher Robert Hill
The United States needs to be proactive in finding ways to communicate and collaborate more closely with China rather than pursuing a policy of decoupling, said Ambassador Christopher Robert Hill, a former career diplomat, in a talk hosted by the FCC.
April 8: Marianna Spring
Description goes here.Misinformation and conspiracy theories may be considered problems that primarily affect social media and online discourse, but as BBC specialist disinformation reporter Marianna Spring explained in a Zoom talk hosted by the FCC, the negative consequences of viral falsehoods spill over into real life all too often.
April 13: Fareed Zakaria
The relationship between the United States and China is set to define the global order for decades to come, and both countries will emerge strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways, said journalist and author Fareed Zakaria in a Zoom webinar hosted by the FCC.
On World Press Freedom Day, an FCC Hong Kong panel of speakers representing press clubs across Southeast Asia painted a dire portrait of press freedom in the region as various governments have vilified, attacked and even arrested journalists throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 11: Barkha Dutt and Rana Ayyub
Local and independent reporters have played an essential and often high-risk role in revealing the true scale of India’s COVID-19 catastrophe while many in the mainstream media have preferred to parrot the government’s narrative, journalists Barkha Dhutt and Rana Ayyub said in an FCC webinar.
May 14: Henry Litton
Hong Kong’s judiciary has lost its former efficacy and judges need to focus on remedies and practical issues rather than esoteric arguments, said Henry Litton, former judge of the Court of Final Appeal, in an FCC webinar.
May 18: Fongyee Walker
Offering a fascinating look at the inner workings of the Chinese winemaking industry, Master of Wine Fongyee Walker highlighted the many business challenges facing producers during a Zoom talk. “There are people making terrific wine, but who do you sell it to?” said Walker. “You’re trying to sell a premium product to a market that almost doesn’t exist — it’s a huge challenge.”
May 31: Bill Bartles and Michael Smith
In September 2020, deteriorating relations between Australia and China led to a five-day diplomatic standoff during which the two remaining foreign correspondents employed by Australian media, Bill Birtles and Michael Smith, were evacuated from the PRC. In a Zoom event, the two journalists shared their accounts of the days leading up to their escape.
June 2: Ivan Hung
In a Zoom presentation, Professor Ivan Hung of the University of Hong Kong offered an in-depth update on the status of the global pandemic, covering topics including vaccinations, viral variants and asymptomatic transmissions.
June 24: Brian Stelter
On the day that Apple Daily published its last edition following 26 years of operation, CNN’s Brian Stelter said in a webinar that journalistic solidarity is needed in challenging moments such as these. “Nothing unites journalists more than a threat against a newspaper or a publication or against journalism itself,” Stelter said. “Nothing unites this industry more than a moment like this.”
June 29: Eric X. Li
China’s income disparity and environmental degradation are the biggest challenges currently facing the ruling Chinese Communist Party at the 100th anniversary of its founding, said Shanghai-based venture capitalist and political scientist Eric X. Li, who vigorously defended the party’s style of government while expressing doubts about liberal democracies around the world.
July 7: Hans van de Ven
As the Chinese Communist Party celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding, Professor Hans van de Ven acknowledged the party’s success in a Zoom talk, but he also said that its history over the past century was never written in stone.
July 22: Marty Baron
The proliferation of online disinformation sites purporting to be legitimate news has created an incredibly difficult and hostile environment for journalism, said Marty Baron, former executive editor of The Washington Post, in a discussion moderated by FCC President Keith Richburg.
July 26: Antonio T. Carpio
Tensions and territorial disputes in the South China Sea are unlikely to result in warfare because of the Philippines’ mutual defence treaty with the United States, said former Philippine Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio.
August 24: ‘COVID-19’s Lasting Impact on India’ Panel
Bloomberg correspondent and FCC Correspondent Governor Iain Marlow moderated an insightful discussion on India’s handling of the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic with a panel of revered experts of global health, public policy and economics.
China’s active approach to governing social welfare goals in the age of big tech has become a widely known attribute of the CCP’s modus operandi in recent years. However, according to a panel of experts, this starkly contrasting approach to regulation in the West poses a myriad of uncertainties for some of its largest companies looking to raise capital in U.S. equity markets.
September 23: Peter Martin
China’s so-called ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy is not a new phenomenon but it has taken on a new dimension over the course of the pandemic, said Bloomberg reporter Peter Martin in a Zoom talk. “Some of China’s strengths have been highlighted; its ability to use its supply chains to produce massive amounts of vaccine and personal protective equipment, and to ship those around the world, kind of plays to a strength of the Chinese system,” Martin said.
October 19: Joanna Chiu
The author of China Unbound: A New World Disorder, which details China’s rapid international rise and the ways Western nations have contributed to a state of global disorder, Chiu explained how her reporting revealed “paranoid rhetoric” and a tendency of United Front effort to focus on individuals and “no-names” who don’t pose a meaningful threat to the CCP.
October 21: ‘Startups and Substack’ Panel
COVID-19 has caused widespread tragedy and turmoil, but a panel of journalists and media experts said that there have been upsides for journalists and newsrooms in the midst of the pandemic.
Technology has changed the way journalism is produced and distributed, but Reuters executive editor Gina Chua argued in favor of greater changes for the news business in a Zoom event hosted by the FCC. “What we do today is essentially the same thing we did 50 years ago,” Chua said.
Remembering Carlos Tejada: Deputy Asia Editor for The New York Times
By Austin Ramzy and Dan Strumpf
Carlos Tejada, an editor for The New York Times who mentored generations of journalists in Asia and helped guide coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s oppression of ethnic minorities, died of a heart attack on 18 December 2021 in Seoul. He was 49.
Tejada became the Times’ deputy Asia editor in 2020 and helped lead the transfer of much of the paper’s Asia operations from Hong Kong to Seoul last year. He previously served as Asia news editor, China news editor and deputy Hong Kong bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal.
Colleagues at both newspapers remember him as a gifted editor who elevated stories with seeming ease and faced the burdens of the job with joy and humour. He held reporters to high standards, coaxing out their best work through both scrutiny and compassion. He made long sentences short and vague ideas clear.
Yuan Li, a business columnist for the Times who also worked with the late editor at the Journal, said Tejada was always willing to help Chinese journalists like herself who wanted to write in English.
“In our 17 years of working together at the Journal then at the Times, he had never laughed at my English,” she says. “As my editor, he just patiently corrected the numerous grammatical mistakes I made, made my sentences comprehensible and my columns shine.”
Josh Chin, deputy China bureau chief at the Journal and a longtime colleague of Tejada, said he was “like a Jedi master of newspaper editing.”
“He could always mind-trick you into doing a story his way, which was usually the right way,” Chin says. “He constantly devoted energy to reporters and their stories in a way that seems unfathomable, and that can only be explained by the fact that he believed with so much infectious conviction in the goodness and value of old-school journalism done properly.”
Tejada also helped nurture young reporters and editors outside his own newsrooms. “The best stories are about conflict,” or where “the stated intent or purpose goes horribly awry,” he told a writing seminar at the FCC’s journalism conference in 2017.
He edited early stories on China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic cited in the Times’ 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. In addition, he contributed to coverage of Beijing’s crackdown on predominately Muslim minority groups that was a Pulitzer finalist in 2020.
After the Times decided to move much of its editing operations in Asia from Hong Kong due to difficulty obtaining visas and the uncertainty created by the National Security Law, Tejada helped spearhead the establishment of a new regional hub in Seoul last year.
Tejada grew up in Arizona, the son of an immigrant from El Salvador and an English teacher from New Hampshire (his parents met when his father took his mother’s ESL class). The family lived for a time in a salvaged mobile home.
“There were javelina [a pig-like hooved animal] in the creosote [a desert shrub] and scorpions in the kitchen sink, but no telephones and no neighbours,” he said of that point in his childhood. “It was more fun than it sounds.”
He joined the Wall Street Journal as a spot news reporter in Dallas, Texas, before moving to New York to work as an editor.
He served as the Journal’s deputy bureau chief and Asia news editor in Hong Kong, then moved in 2011 to Beijing, where he was the paper’s China news editor. He returned to Hong Kong in 2016 when he became the Times’ Asia business editor.
Tejada met his wife, Nora, at the University of Kansas, where he studied journalism. They had a son, Marco, and a daughter, Gianna.
2021 in Review: Looking Back at Our Guest Speaker Events
As the COVID-19 pandemic entered its second year, life in Hong Kong continued to be far from normal, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club was no exception to the rule. Much like 2020, our ability to plan in-person events this year was severely reduced by government restrictions that prevented us from hosting our popular club lunches. (We organized plenty of Zoom events, however.)
Fortunately the situation improved in the second half of the year, and in August we were able to resume inviting notable guest speakers to the club. Here’s a look back at the lineup of speakers we hosted in 2021.
August 12: Matthew Marsh
For our first in-person speaker event of the year, Fox Sports Asia analyst (and FCC member) Matthew Marsh gave a behind-the-scenes look at F1 in the age of COVID.
“As a journalist, being able to talk to other journalists, being able to talk to team people, being able to watch the way they behave is critical,” Marsh said, comparing the experience of firsthand, in-person reporting versus remote reporting.
The flip side of that is… when I interview drivers on Zoom or whatever it is we’re using, it’s better. Would you believe?” he said.
September 1: Dr. Trisha Leahy
Dr. Trisha Leahy, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI), joined the FCC for an in-person discussion about the lead-up to Hong Kong’s Olympic success.
“These are the results of the system we’ve been building for the last eight to 12 years,” Leahy said.
September 2: Harry Harrison
For over 20 years, award-winning political cartoonist Harry Harrison has put pen to paper satirizing Hong Kong life and politics for the South China Morning Post. Having recently released a new book, Add Ink: Cartoon Chronicles of Life in Hong Kong, Harrison appeared at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club to discuss his career and the process of drawing cartoons.
“I’m continuing doing what I do assuming I’m treading the right side of whatever invisible red line there. As far as I know, that’s what’s happening and they know what my cartoons are about. Either that or I’m sitting on a powder keg”, Harrison said.
In a lunch talk at the FCC, Schuman said that his own experience of learning history had inspired the book.
“We are, I think, all in part shaped by our history and, more importantly, how we learn our history and how we perceive our history, or in some cases, misperceive our history,” Schuman said.
September 21: Regina Ip
Offering an overview of the relationship between China and Hong Kong, longtime public servant and politician Regina Ip, a member of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council, said that tensions between the mainland and the SAR were natural and to be expected.
“The implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ was never expected to be painless and trouble-free,” Ip said. “It is a bold and innovative concept, but the accommodation of a small but radically different system within a large, continental-size economy, is bound to be fraught with tensions and challenges.”
In a presentation at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, O’Neill recounted how Chiang and Vakhreva met while they were working, most unexpectedly, at the same heavy machinery plant in Yekaterinburg. She was born in Orsha in 1916 and fled war to the more favorably located Yekaterinburg. Chiang, meanwhile, had asked his father, Chiang Kai-shek, if he could study at Sun Yat-sen University in Moscow, where he excelled at learning Russian and drinking and dancing, among other things.
October 11: David Yeung
The role raising livestock for meat consumption plays in increasing greenhouse gas emissions is well known, but as Green Monday CEO David Yeung explained, eating seafood should be considered equally bad.
“There is a gigantic piece of the puzzle that is missing, that is not talked about and public awareness is extremely low, and it’s about the ocean,” Yeung said. He shared data showing that fishing has increased by 900% over the last 70 years, a trajectory that he called “utterly unsustainable.”
October 12: Cheng Huan
In a lunch talk during which he shared his thoughts and reflections on the 2020 National Security Law passed by the central government, senior barrister Cheng Huan said that Hong Kong has a legal obligation to enact its own national security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as possible.
“My biggest disappointment is that, for 17 years after 2003, one administration after another, and especially the members of LegCo, consistently failed to carry out their constitutional duty according to the Basic Law by not enacting Article 23,” Cheng said. “Because they failed to do so, Hong Kong now has a National Security Law imposed from above. This should never have been necessary.”
November 1: Biodiversity & Climate Change Panel
While COP26 took place in Glasgow, Laurence McCook of WWF Hong Kong, KPMG China partner Irene Chu and conservationist Dr. Billy Hau spoke at the FCC on November 1. During this lunchtime panel, the environmental experts spelled out Hong Kong’s ecological toll and outlined its role in creating a more sustainable world.
The WWF ranks the city’s ecological footprint (measuring human demand on land and water) as the third worst in Asia-Pacific and 14th worst globally.
November 3: Afghanistan Panel
Nearly 20 years after the defeat of the Taliban in November 2001, a panel of journalists told an audience at the FCC that no one could have predicted the ease with which the Taliban regained control of Kabul this past August.
CNN’s Anna Coren, who was on the ground in Afghanistan earlier this year, said that she and her colleagues sensed trouble because of the way in which the Taliban seized control of the provinces, but even they were surprised by what happened in Kabul.
“I don’t think in our wildest dreams we thought that the Taliban would just roll in on the 15th of August without a shot being fired, which is basically what happened,” Coren said.
November 9: Herald van der Linde
Anyone looking to invest or have a better understanding of how Asia’s stock markets function shouldn’t be paying attention to the performance of the Dow Jones Index, said renowned market analyst Herald van der Linde during a lunch talk at the FCC.
“You should look at what the bond market does first,” van der Linde said. “What happens there and how do we translate that back into the stock market?”
November 17: Capt. Alan Loynd
In a lunch talk at the FCC, Loynd discussed the highlights of his exciting and at times dramatic career, which included stints on cargo ships, passenger ships and avoiding attack in the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq War, all of which is recounted in his recently published memoir All at Sea.
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to go to sea,” Loynd said.
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