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Mandatory use of “LeaveHomeSafe” app in the Club premise

Dear Fellow Members,

You may be aware that the Government has announced an update of mandatory use of the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile application to all premises with effect from December 9.

Members and their guests must scan the “LeaveHomeSafe” QR code before entering the Club including health club and workroom. Only the following three groups of persons have the option to either use the “LeaveHomeSafe” apps or complete a form:
  1. Persons aged 65 or above and aged 15 or below;
  2. Persons with disability; and
  3. Other persons recognized by the Government or organization(s) authorized by the Government
Please be aware that use of the “LeaveHomeSafe” app is a government requirement, and anyone not using it faces a $5000 fine. There is no exception for not having a smartphone. The only exception is for visitors under the age of 16, and those 65 or older, who will be allowed fill out a form. Individuals – that is, members and their guests – bear responsibility for using the app.  In case of an inspection and a fine being issued, the Club is not responsible.

I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and willingness to adapt to these varying restrictions and regulations. And I will of course be in touch if anything changes as we monitor the situation and follow the government’s announcements.

Merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing you around the Main Bar.

Keith Richburg


9 December 2021

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, Membership Survey on Press Freedom

In an effort to gauge the confidence of our members in the media environment in Hong Kong since the introduction of the National Security Law, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) has conducted a survey of correspondent and journalist members on a wide range of issues related to press freedom.

The results revealed widespread uncertainty among members over what the media is and is not allowed to report on since the implementation of the National Security Law in June 2020, and concern over the further erosion of press freedom with the possible introduction of a “fake news” law in Hong Kong. 

“This is the first time we’ve conducted a survey like this of our correspondent and journalist members,” FCC President Keith Richburg said. “There’s been a lot of talk and anecdotal evidence about concerns over the state of press freedom in Hong Kong, so we thought it would be helpful to try to quantify the extent of those concerns.”

The vast majority of respondents reported an overall deterioration in the working environment for journalists, noting in particular the unwillingness of sources to be quoted and the need for reporters to self-censor their writing or delete images. 

The survey was conducted from late August to late October 2021. While the FCC has numerous members working in non-media sectors, for this survey we chose only to contact the club’s correspondent and journalist members. We received 99 responses–70 from correspondent members (club members working for foreign media) and 29 from journalist members (those working for local media)–reflecting a response rate of about 25%. All responses were anonymous.

In terms of the general working environment for journalists, 84% said that the situation had deteriorated since the introduction of the National Security Law. While 15% said there had been no change, one respondent said the situation had actually changed for the better. 

One respondent said:

In many ways it has become worse than the mainland because nobody knows what the red lines are and there is real fear that previous coverage could be scrutinised. Self-censorship and the drying up of sources is another result of the NSL.

Another noted:

It has definitely changed for the worse. When I first arrived, Hong Kong was a much freer society — people were open to speaking, no topic within reason was off limits, and there were no real concerns about what we could publish or whether we could protect sources who spoke to us. Now, many people are reluctant or refuse to talk on sensitive subjects, and our organization — especially after the raids on Apple Daily — is much more cautious about data security and the ability to protect sources.

A total of 86% of respondents said sources were now less willing to talk about sensitive issues, while 14% reported no change. One respondent revealed:

Many of my sources are now in jail. Some have fled abroad. Others now refuse to comment to foreign media, based on advice from their lawyers or out of — very justifiable — fear that speaking to a foreign journalist could aid a prosecutor’s case against them under the National Security Law. Many people, even those abroad who might have family in Hong Kong, are now insisting on anonymity. 

Another stated simply:

Fallen off a cliff. Former sources happy to go on the record now are only off the record or won’t talk at all.

However, another respondent countered:

I think sources are still happy to talk. They might say something is a “bit political” when talking but I haven’t noticed people holding back.

A smaller, but still significant, number of members said they were self-censoring or had experienced censorship within their organization. Asked “To what extent have you self-censored your writing, either in content or by simply avoiding covering certain subjects?” 44% replied not at all, 40% said they had slightly self-censored, and 16% had self-censored to a considerable degree. 

One respondent said: 

There are certainly some topics that we would now have to think long and hard about covering in any detail, in particular anything to do with independence. We would also now consider publishing some of our coverage with a non-Hong Kong dateline to avoid potential legal/political jeopardy for colleagues based in the city. But otherwise we soldier on and do our job of reporting the news without fear or favour.

The majority of respondents, 56%, said they had not experienced any overt censorship by their news organization in the coverage of sensitive issues, 36% said they had seen slight censorship, while 8% had experienced considerable censorship. One respondent noted that “management doesn’t ‘officially’ discourage coverage of sensitive areas but makes it very difficult to do so.”

One member pointed out:

Censorship is a loaded word. Clearly, the NSL is something we need to take seriously and it has affected how we approach the news and express our opinions. We don’t want to break the law. At the same time, I don’t feel I have been prevented from saying what I want to about the NSL and about how Hong Kong has changed since its enactment.

One of the most significant results of the survey was the uncertainty among our members over what is and what is not a “sensitive subject” in the wake of the National Security Law. Around half of the respondents, 48%, said they were unclear about exactly where the red lines were in reporting sensitive issues. Other respondents were more confident in defining the red lines but significantly gave different responses: Some highlighted Hong Kong independence, while others focused on mainland China issues or more generally Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan. 

To illustrate the uncertainty, one respondent said:

When a nurse said that one of her patients didn’t want to get the Covid vaccine in China because she didn’t think the Chinese vaccines are very good, and decided to come back to Hong Kong where she could get the BioNTech shot, I got an editor’s comment “Do you think this is a bit too political?” 

In terms of sensitive images, 48% of respondents said they were not confident in knowing what is permitted when it comes to taking photos or videos of sensitive subjects, 33% were somewhat confident, and only 19% said they were confident in knowing what images were acceptable:

I have the feeling that journalists are allowed to shoot public events even if they contain banners or slogans that breach the NSL. Likewise, media can publish them. But that can change in a second.

Many respondents agreed that the definition of what is considered sensitive is shifting all the time, thereby forcing them to exercise a greater degree of caution.

The definition of what is sensitive has broadened from the specifically political to encompass the work of civil society, the media, trade union and cultural organizations. There is no indication that this widening process is about to stop.

Going forward, there is widespread concern among the FCC’s correspondent and journalist members over the Hong Kong government’s proposal to enact a “fake news” law. In all, 76% of respondents said they were “very concerned” about the introduction of a fake news law, 15% were slightly concerned, 6% were not aware of the issue, and 3% were not concerned about the legislation. 

Several respondents noted that “fake news” laws have been created by authoritarian governments to suppress unfavourable coverage. Others said there are signs that Hong Kong authorities are willing to label anything they do not like as “fake news.” For example:

It’s already clear to me that officials in high office in Hong Kong believe that “fake news” is a label they can apply to news or commentary that they don’t like, regardless of whether it is “fake,” and that a fake news law could be used broadly against critics in the same way that they have used the National Security Law. 

Other respondents, while noting the risk of abuse by the authorities, cautioned that journalists still had a responsibility to verify information before publication and avoid over-sensationalizing issues.

The media has tremendous responsibilities, and we must be abiding by our code of conduct to stay neutral. Press Freedom does not mean that someone has the freedom to make up stories that are not facts. I am saddened by how the media has deteriorated to become storytellers instead of news reporters

The survey revealed considerable uncertainty among FCC correspondent and journalist members about the future. A significant majority of respondents said they were concerned about the possibility of arrest or prosecution from reporting or writing opinion articles – 61% were slightly concerned, 10% were very concerned, while 29% said they were not concerned about arrest or prosecution. 

I’ve published extensively and it’s ‘out there’ on the net. But with laws constantly changing and applying to old works and deeds, if someone needs a flimsy excuse to ‘get me’, they’ll probably pull up some old work that was acceptable debate/opinion when it was published and now an excuse to prosecute. 

A total of 77% of respondents said they were concerned about the possibility of digital or physical surveillance, while another 12% said they had already directly experienced surveillance. 37% of respondents had deleted images, either online or one their devices, because of security concerns, and a smaller number of reporters said they had experienced interference, harassment or violence while reporting. 15% had experienced minor interference and 7% said they had encountered significant harassment or interference.

Many correspondent and journalist members have the right to permanent residency in Hong Kong and so are not directly affected by employment visa issues. That said, 29% of respondents reported that they personally, or others in their news organization, had experienced considerable delays or obstacles in obtaining employment visas or visa renewals. Another 24% said they had experienced slight delays.

Finally, we asked members if they were planning on or considering leaving Hong Kong because of concerns over press freedom. About 34% said they were considering leaving, and 12% already had plans to do so. The remaining 54% said they planned to stay. One typical response noted:

The rapidly deteriorating political environment in Hong Kong has made me consider cutting short my stay in the city. While we’re not planning an imminent departure by any means, myself and several others I know are reconsidering previous plans to stay in Hong Kong over a longer time frame, given the city we arrived in was very different than the city we currently live in. Everyone has different limits on what they will tolerate. 

Richburg, the FCC’s president, added: “We would like to conduct this kind of survey on a regular, recurring basis so we can continue to gauge the sentiment among our members who are working actively as journalists and let the results be made publicly available. We hope this survey, and any future ones, can help contribute to the ongoing discussion about the state of press freedom in Hong Kong.”

The FCC is grateful to all those members who took the time to respond to our survey.

Concerns Rising Over Weakening Media Freedoms in Hong Kong, FCC Press Freedom Survey Shows

Concerns Rising Over Weakening Media Freedoms in
Hong Kong, FCC Press Freedom Survey Shows

Journalists and correspondents in Hong Kong say working conditions have deteriorated significantly since the introduction of the National Security Law, while large numbers report growing concern about the possibility of a “fake news” law that could further erode press freedoms in the city, according to a new survey from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong.

In a wide-ranging survey of the FCC’s correspondent and journalist members, 84% of respondents said the working environment for journalism has “changed for the worse” since the law’s introduction in June 2020.

At the same time, 91% of respondents said they were either “very concerned” (76%) or “slightly concerned” (15%) about the possible introduction of a fake news law.

Concern has been heightened by the fact that, since the enactment of the National Security Law, there has been a drastic decline in the willingness of sources to be quoted–86% of respondents said their sources were less willing to be quoted or to discuss sensitive subjects, and there is concern that even relatively neutral topics might be deemed “a bit political.”

It has become very difficult for journalists to tell what is a sensitive topic: Only about half (52%) of respondents said they had a clear sense of where the government’s “red lines” were now. Moreover, respondents gave a wide range of definitions of “sensitive” and several noted that this definition could change at any time.

Most respondents (56%) said they had, to some degree, self-censored or avoided reporting on what might be considered sensitive stories. Others had deleted images out of security concerns, and there is widespread concern among journalists over digital and physical surveillance. Nearly half of the respondents (46%) said they were now considering or already had plans to leave Hong Kong because of the decline in press freedom in the city.

“These results clearly show that assurances that Hong Kong still enjoys press freedom, guaranteed under the Basic Law, are not enough,” FCC President Keith Richburg said. “More steps need to be taken to restore confidence among journalists and to make sure Hong Kong maintains its decades-long reputation as a welcoming place for the international media.”

Amid the uncertain working environment for reporters in Hong Kong, respondents noted that fake news laws have been created by authoritarian governments around the world to suppress unfavourable coverage. And there are already signs that the Hong Kong government and the police could label unfavourable coverage as “fake news”, as detailed in the FCC’s open letter on 22 April to then-Police Commissioner Chris Tang.

The FCC urges the Hong Kong government to heed the concerns of our members and take action to restore confidence among working journalists in the city. We ask the government to consider very carefully the impact a “fake news” law would have not only on the media here but also on Hong Kong’s international reputation for press freedom.

The FCC’s membership includes reporters and editors from major media outlets around the world, and from across Hong Kong’s diverse media landscape. Read the full FCC survey report here.

Contact: [email protected]

Visit our new Members’ Area in our FCC Website!

Dear Members,
Since the launch of our newly developed FCC Website early this year, the site is now faster loading, more secure and has a mobile version to cater for accessing everything on the site via all smartphones and tablet devices. The website's new features include a scrolling social media feed and easier-to-find archives of our speaker events. It also provides easily accessible and searchable news about the Club, our press freedom statements, and notices about our upcoming luncheon talks and our food and beverage promotions.
Now we are delighted to announce that the Members' Area is ready. It enables members to check their account statements and manage their own account. The online booking function and the E-Shop is still being tested and will be released soon, so stay tuned. 
To use the Members' Area, you will first need a one-time registration. An introduction on ‘How to register the members’ area’ is attached here. If you have any questions on how to register, feel free to contact the Concierge team at 2521 1511 or [email protected] on weekdays from 0900 to 2100.
The unveiling of this site is a culmination of months of work from the tireless staff along with the Board. We are proud of all their contributions and we thank everyone for their efforts. 
Let me know what you think — I'll see you at the Main Bar.
Keith Richburg
24 September 2021

FCC Minimum Spend

Dear Members,
With the lifting of many of the restrictions which have limited FCC activities for so long, we have been delighted to welcome back more members to the Club's expanded offering of speaker events, film nights, musical events and our extensive F&B promotions. As a result of the Club being more accessible, the minimum spend requirement will now revert to being charged to Member's accounts on a quarterly basis and hence will be charged to Member's September accounts which will be sent in early October. We will continue to offer the opportunity for Members to purchase vouchers to be used in subsequent months if you are unable to utilise the Club before the end of September.
21 September 2021

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Awards Clare Hollingworth Fellowships

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Awards Clare
Hollingworth Fellowships
Amy Sood
Amy Sood is joining AFP after recently earning her master’s degree from the University of Hong Kong’s journalism program. She has previously interned with CNN and NBC News.
Hillary Leung
Hillary Leung is an Associate Editor at Coconuts Hong Kong, where she covers everything from politics to social issues. She was previously a reporter for TIME magazine and an intern at news verification agency Storyful.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is pleased to announce that it has chosen Amy Sood and Hillary Leung as recipients of the third annual Clare Hollingworth Fellowship, named in honor of the preeminent and path-breaking journalist.
The panel of judges noted the winners offer clear potential as future leaders both within the FCC and the wider Hong Kong journalism community.
The Fellowship is focused on early-career journalists and current journalism school students in Hong Kong.
The open competition drew significant interest from a cross spectrum of applicants. The adjudicators noted the high standard of applicants and encouraged all to apply again next year.
For further information on the Clare Hollingworth Fellowship, please visit

FCC Influenza Vaccination 2021

FCC Influenza Vaccination 2021
Dear Members,

All FCC staff will participate in an influenza immunization programme in October 2021. The vaccination will be administered by a registered doctor from a reputable clinic in Central.

There will be 50 doses available for FCC members on specific dates at a discount price HK$220.

Anyone who is interested please complete the reply slip and reserve with the FCC concierge at (tel) 2521 1511, (fax) 2868 4092 or (email) [email protected] on or before Thursday, October 7, 2021.

  1. The influenza vaccine is only available for the child above 6 months.
  2. Any person who is hypersensitive to egg protein, suffer from acute severe febrile illness or previous severe allergic reaction to flu vaccine etc. is not suitable to take the influenza vaccine.
  3. The influenza vaccine can only be taken after the completion of 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and that 14 days have passed from the date of receiving the 2nd dose.
  4. Most people achieve protection from influenza vaccine approximately 2-3 weeks after receiving the immunization, so travelers should allow adequate time for vaccination before departure.
  5. It is recommended to consult your personal doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking the vaccine.
  6. Confirmation will be sent to you once your booking is accepted. If you do not receive a confirmation within two working days, please contact our Concierge.
  7. The amount shown below will charge to your FCC membership account in November 2021.
  8. Booking period: October 11–22, 2021 (Weekdays, 10am-12nn; 2:30pm-5pm / Saturday, 10am-12nn / Sunday & Public holiday will be closed)
Click here to download the form

Moving to “Type D” — Bringing Back Live Events

Moving to “Type D” — Bringing Back Live Events
Dear Fellow Members,
I’m pleased to be able to report to you that the Club is running smoothly since we moved to the government’s “Type C” category on July 1. The success is because of all of you and the broad cooperation we have received. And I’m also happy to report that all of our staff have completed the vaccine program. You will have noticed that the Club has been full and buzzing of late.
As the next step, we are planning next week to move forward to “Type D” category, which means bringing back live events like our regular Club luncheon speakers, live music in Bert’s, our popular film nights, and of course banqueting at full capacity — all to bring back more of the atmosphere and buzz that has made the Club such a magnet for us all.
Starting from Monday August 2, we will go to “Type D” category upstairs on the first floor and downstairs in Bert’s. With this move, we will be able to operate those venues at 100% capacity and with 12 people seated together at a table.
Please note: those venues will continue to operate under “Type C” when there are no private functions or Club events, but will temporarily shift to “Type D” during events. To operate those facilities under “Type D”, some further steps are needed from all of us planning to attend events.
What is “Type D” operation?
Mandatory use of “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app
At least two-thirds of the total number of participants must have received the first vaccine jab and can show proof (through a QR code or on paper).
Capacity up to 100%
Maximum 12 persons per table
Please be aware that use of the “LeaveHomeSafe” app is a government requirement, and anyone not using it faces a $5000 fine. There is no exception for not having a smartphone. The only exception is for visitors under the age of 16, and those 65 or older, who will be allowed fill out a form. Individuals – that is, members and their guests – bear responsibility for using the app. In case of an inspection and a fine being issued, the Club is not responsible.
I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and willingness to adapt to these varying restrictions and regulations. And I will of course be in touch if anything changes as we monitor the situation and follow the government’s announcements.
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you around the Main Bar.
Keith Richburg
27 July 2021

FCC Minimum Spend

Please be advised that FCC Minimum Spend, which was rolled over from March, will now appear on members' June statements which will be sent in early July. We are hopeful that current restrictions will be eased in the coming weeks allowing for greater enjoyment of the Club, with a return of popular events such as guest speaker lunches, quiz night, increased banqueting options and longer opening hours. Please remember the minimum spend can be used for the club's extensive take-away menu, including drinks. Additionally, vouchers equivalent to any outstanding minimum spend can be purchased and will be valid for use through to September 2021.
23 June 2021

The Club is moving to “Type C” under “Vaccine Bubble” on July 1

The Club is moving to “Type C” under “Vaccine Bubble” on July 1
Dear Fellow Members,
I am pleased to be able to share with you some encouraging news.
More than 90% of our FCC staff have so far begun their vaccinations, including those who are medically exempted. Such a high rate will soon allow the Club to gradually increase our operations as we work to return to something more like our pre-pandemic ‘normal’.
Our next goal is to move to the government’s “Type C” category, which will allow us greater operating flexibility. We will do this effective July 1. Please note: this requires action from members as well as staff.
“Type C” will enable us to increase table size to six persons from the four allowed under our current Type B category, and to extend the closing time from 10pm until midnight. We hope to expand operations further over the next few months.
To get to “Type C”, all of our staff must have received at least first dose of a vaccine. We’re confident we will manage this by the end of June.
The change for members is that they and their guests will have to use the government’s Leave Home Safe app to visit the Club. This is a government stipulation and those who do not do so face a $5000 fine. There is no exception for not having a smartphone. The only exception is for visitors under the age of 16, and those 65 or older, who can still fill out a paper form.
Please be aware that individuals – that is, members and their guests – bear responsibility for using the app, not the Club, in case of an inspection and a fine being issued.
We’re looking forward to welcoming more members back to the Club under “Type C” and also to bringing back more of the atmosphere and buzz that make the Club such a magnet for us all. These measures will also go some way to reducing the financial deficit caused by the restrictions associated with the pandemic.
I expect that in early August, we will be able to go further still and move the first floor to Type D. That would mean the Main Dining Room, the Verandah as well as the Hughes and Burton Rooms could operate with 8 people per table and stay open until 2am. They will also be allowed to have events and functions for up to 100 people. For that to happen, all members using that floor will need to have had at least their first vaccination, or bring a medical exemption certificate along with a negative result from a Covid test taken in the last three days.
We’ll update you on our progress towards that goal in the coming weeks. We plan that the Main Bar and Lounge as well as Bert’s, will continue to operate under “Type C” even if the first floor goes to Type D.
These are important milestones in our efforts to return to normality and improve the Club’s financial performance and they can be met only with your cooperation and support. Thank you!
Keith Richburg
根據政府規例,會員和賓客必須使用「安心出行」進入本會,而該程式需在智能電話下載。若違反規定,可處定額罰款5,000元。至於未滿16 歲,及65歲或以上則可選擇填顧客資料記錄表。
預計8月初開始,一樓樓層將進一步轉換到D類的運作模式,即Main Dining Room、Verandah、名仕閣和漾馨廳可以每枱最多8人,營業時間延長至凌晨2時,宴會人數上限亦可增至100人。為此,所有會員和賓客必須已接種第一劑疫苗,或因健康理由不適合接種者需出示醫生證明書及宴會前3日內檢測結果呈陰性證明。
在未來數星期,我們會定期向大家更新營運進度。儘管一樓樓層轉換到D類的運作模式, Main Bar、Lounge和Bert’s會繼續在C類的模式下運作。
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