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It’s farewell and bon voyage to Correspondent editor, Sue Brattle
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club bids farewell to Sue Brattle, a longtime member and outgoing editor of The Correspondent, as she embarks on a new chapter. Before she leaves Hong Kong, we asked her to reflect on her time helming the magazine.
Q: What first drew you to the position of editor of The Correspondent?
A: I was a reader of the magazine and was ghost-writing a book when I saw the contract advertised. I had flexible working hours, so thought I’d apply for the job – and got it! My thanks to Kate Whitehead and Adam White who interviewed me, and for being so supportive in my first year. I’m sure the new editor, Kate Springer, who has my very best wishes, will equally get terrific support from the current Communications Committee.
Q: What are you proudest of during your time as editor?
A: Definitely the protest issue of October 2019. By then the protests had become part of our landscape in Hong Kong, and I wanted to emphasise the human interest stories behind the media coverage. I approached around 25 members of the media and was bowled over by the response. I asked for personal reflections, as apolitical as possible, and that’s what I got. Some of the 20 or so pieces genuinely moved me, and I think it made for a strong issue of the magazine.
Q: What were the key challenges you faced while in this role?
A: Making the magazine timely, while being quarterly. I always tried to commission early in the three-month cycle, but gave writers and photographers as much leeway with deadlines as possible. I did most of the magazine in the three weeks before going to press, and the cover story and president’s message in the last hour or so. Also, I’d love for the Comms Committee to meet in the evening rather than at lunchtime, so members had more time to chew over ideas instead of needing to rush back to work.
Q: What are some of the most memorable stories you commissioned and worked on with reporters?
I loved working with the students who wrote for the second protest issue, January 2020, and the coronavirus issue of April 2020. Their care and enthusiasm should be bottled! There are a few stars of the future among them. It was always a pleasure to work with journalists in the club who know Hong Kong inside out and can bring it alive. As every editor knows, there’s nothing like an idea landing in your inbox out of the blue from someone you can trust will deliver it on time. Oh, I also loved the club’s annual Journalism Conference and eventually had a team of reporters covering it.
It was always a pleasure to work with journalists in the club who know Hong Kong inside out and can bring it alive.
Q: What do you plan to do after leaving Hong Kong?
A: Well, I’m sure you can hear the gods laughing at our plans … what a time to be on the move. Plan A was to go home to the UK, slowly, as an extended holiday. You never know, we may still manage that. Then we’ll sort out our house, which has had tenants for 14 years while we’ve been working abroad, and organise our next adventure. My husband and I launched a travel blog, Afaranwide.com, 18 months ago, and we’ll work on that wherever we are.
Q: What will you miss about Hong Kong?
A: The list is endless, but I really don’t want to lose the view from our balcony in Discovery Bay. The steady comings and goings of the ferry make me feel all’s well, whatever the reality is! And looking out onto the hills opposite us is definitely good for the soul. I doubt I’ll ever have such a privileged view again.
ON ASSIGNMENT, THE FCC’S 2019 CHARITY FUNDRAISER – TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Go “On Assignment” and party all night like yesteryear’s correspondents at the 2019 FCC Charity Fundraiser. The evening will include international buffets, drinks, entertainment, live bands and a good dose of nostalgia and fun.
Chris Polanco, Don’t Panic, Sybil Thomas, Crimes Against Pop and DJ Perez will be playing.
Tickets are HK $888 for members and $1,088 for their guests, available at the Front Office or by emailing [email protected].
The fundraiser will benefit Keeping Kids in Kindergarten, a local charity helping the young children of refugees and asylum-seekers in Hong Kong. Read more about them in The Correspondent: https://www.fcchk.org/correspondent/fcc-adopts-charity-that-helps-asylum-seekers-get-their-children-into-kindergarten/
Raffle tickets are now available at the Front Office.
Stay tuned for updates on raffle tickets and an online auction featuring an exciting range of items to bid on.
Wall Exhibition- Looking Back: Hong Kong 1967 Riots
|THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, HONG KONG|
|Looking Back: Hong Kong 1967 Riots|
|Photos Provided Courtesy of
Hong Kong Information Services Department,
SCMP, Hugh Van Es
|Venue: Main Bar|
|Exhibition dates: April 21 – May 14, 2017|
|Non-members are welcome from 10am-12 noon & 3pm-5:30pm daily.|
|Please feel free to register at the Concierge before visiting.|
|The exhibition is located at Main Bar|
|No entry to anyone aged under 18 years or inappropriately dressed (e.g. no singlets)|
|Address: North Block, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong|
|Tel: 2521 1511|
Income Statement – January 2018
Income Statement – January 2018
Harassment of journalists in China: reporters covering Xinjiang prevented from conducting interviews
Here are the latest reports of harassment against journalists covering events in China, courtesy of our colleagues at the FCC China.
INCIDENT REPORT – submitted December 2017
By Axel Dorloff, ARD German Radio.
We went to Xinjian Cun on Monday, December 11. After about 20 minutes of interviews and talking to different people and migrant workers (who all were very open and willing to talk) a group of about 15 to 20 “Te Qin” security guys approached us and asked us to leave. We would have no sufficient permission to do those interviews. We insisted that in this case we wouldn’t need that and tried to go on with our work. But they repeatedly asked us to stop our interviews and wouldn’t leave us alone until we did that. We finally went to the car and headed to the neighbouring village to go on there.
INCIDENT REPORT – submitted December 2017
By Macarena Vidal, El País.
When we went to Daxin, we had no problem at the beginning and the police would only look on while we worked. But after a few interviews, another policeman arrived and told us to go with him to the station “to receive a briefing”. Needless to say, we never received such briefing. At least we did not have to stay there for very long. After about 15-20 minutes a girl arrived, said that a press conference “may be arranged in the future”, told us to contact the Beijing city information office and drove us to where our car was waiting, making clear that we should leave. They took copies of our press cards, but so far we have not been told off or summoned by anyone.
INCIDENT REPORT – submitted December 2017
By a correspondent with an American news organisation.
Two of us were detained back in early November in Xinjiang, lasting from approx. 6pm to 5am. We were told the typical line: reporting in the area required prior permission according to law. We pointed out that there exists no such Chinese law, and for the past decade or so foreign journalists have been free to travel unannounced outside the TAR. They basically retorted that that’s not applicable in Xinjiang or in their local jurisdiction due to the security situation.
We had booked train tickets out of town that night at 11pm but they refused to let us go. They requested to see our photos and we refused but after some negotiation they backed down and we didn’t hand them over. We called the foreign ministry several times starting at around midnight, and for a few hours they seemed to try their best to negotiate with the local public security and propaganda officials on our behalf. We were moved from the public security department to a local hotel lobby at 1am, where interrogation and a lot of waiting continued. We were released at 5am after they interrogated us about the sequence of events for the fourth time and took a written record which both parties signed as per common procedure. They refused to let us take a picture of it but we recorded a reporter reading it over the phone to the bureau chief in Beijing.
We boarded a train at around 5:30am. Later that day after we landed in a different city we were met with (and in my case physically grabbed by) propaganda officials outside an airport. We were closely followed for a day and that night, we were told that every hotel that could take foreigners were booked even though we saw multiple people check into empty rooms. The local entry-exit bureau also refused to make an exception for us to stay at a lower-grade hotel, leading us to wonder if it was a coordinated attempt to deny us lodging. Local officials insisted it was not. We were not permitted to fall asleep by a security guard but caught a few winks on two couches in a hotel lobby while local and prefectural propaganda officials took turns watching us from a third couch. One of the officials, who is Uighur, noted that “sometimes I am denied a hotel room when I’m traveling because I’m Uighur, but that’s how it is and I don’t complain.” We left before dawn for a sleeper train and roused from our sleep by train staff who were instructed to monitor us, which they did via walkie talkies whenever we moved through train cars or prepared to disembark.
We were detained several more times the rest of the trip; I was at one point pursued by three officials on foot. I’ve previously been followed, pursued and interrogated for even longer in China, but this Xinjiang trip was by far the worst experience. The authorities were relentless in pursuing us and obstructing our work.
INCIDENT REPORT – submitted December 2017
By a correspondent from a western media outlet.
A correspondent from a western media outlet was called into the Foreign Ministry to discuss the reporter’s coverage of the evictions issue. They were told that while it was preferred that no more stories were done on this subject if there were to be any more they should be balanced and include the government’s perspective. The correspondent told them that repeated attempts to interview a Beijing government representative were declined by the government. The reporter was warned to guard against “Chinese public opinion” hardening against their stories however the meeting was friendly. The same correspondent (along with a Chinese staff member) were also called into the Exit Entry Police to discuss their coverage of the evictions issue. The police interviewed the two separately and recorded the interviews on video camera. The reporter was told they’d done nothing wrong but asked many questions about the basis for this coverage. It was a lengthy, polite discussion. The tone was friendly and the police said they merely wanted to better understand the situation. At one stage the officers asked if the reporter had sought the permission of local village officials to enter the eviction areas, in the same way that the managers of a danwei should approve an employee being interviewed. The journalist said that as this was a public space such permission did not seem necessary. The police at no stage specifically insisted that such permission was required under Chinese law.
Me and the Media: FT’s Victor Mallet on his love for journalism
Victor Mallet is a journalist, commentator and author with three decades of experience in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He is currently Asia news editor for the Financial Times. He is also an FCC board member.
What made you want to work in media?
In my first few days at university I was confronted by a strange, dishevelled man who told me I should be a reporter for the university newspaper, and I shrugged and thought “Why not?”. I eventually became the editor, and he later became a senior British diplomat. Three years later, when it was time to find a job, I looked in horror at a long list of career options and realised there was absolutely nothing else that looked to be as much fun as journalism. I started as a graduate trainee at Reuters and stayed there for five years learning and working in the London head office, France and South Africa. I moved to the Financial Times while I was living in Africa and have been at the FT ever since, with short breaks to write books. The new one about the Ganges is called River of Life, River of Death and comes out in October.
It was hard to file from occupied Kuwait after the first couple of days, and when they started seizing hostages, I escaped with some friends across the desert into Saudi Arabia.
What has been a career high point?
It’s hard to beat the excitement of being a reporter for a news agency on the world’s biggest story. As apartheid collapsed in South Africa in the 1980s, we criss-crossed the country interviewing everybody from ANC radicals to white right-wing extremists, from business moguls to landless peasants. There was violence, there was singing, there was emotion. And there was a lot of news. If I remember right, one of my best moments was getting two stories from Cape Town in one day onto the front page of the International Herald Tribune (now the New York Times international edition); one was about the war in Angola and the other about the abolition of an apartheid race law, though sadly the IHT in those days hardly ever bylined the names of agency reporters – so the bylines just said “Reuters”.
What has been a low point?
This job is too much fun for that. Let me give you another (journalistic) high point: landing in Kuwait City in the early hours of August 2, 1990 because I and my then foreign news editor reckoned Saddam Hussein might invade. It turned out his troops had already crossed the border a couple of hours earlier, so I found myself in the middle of a wonderful scoop, made all the sweeter by the fact that almost all my press colleagues and rivals had flown back to London the previous day after a week of nothing much happening. It was hard to file from occupied Kuwait after the first couple of days, and when they started seizing hostages, I escaped with some friends across the desert into Saudi Arabia. I could go on… but we can discuss it in the bar.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
Learn a foreign language. Then learn another one.
We want reunification dialogue with North Korea, but only after nuclear program is stopped – South Korea
South Korea hasn’t taken its unification hopes off the table, but North Korea will need to ditch its nuclear program before such dialogue can begin, said South Korea’s Ambassador for public diplomacy.
Enna Park was talking at a press conference held at the FCC on June 27. She said that South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, was keen to open up communication with the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) but that talks were unlikely unless sanctions, coupled with incentives to drop nuclear development, were to come to fruition.
“When the conditions are right, when North Korea feels more comfortable talking with South Korea, we will have dialogue with North Korea. We will not attempt to unify North Korea by any means. It doesn’t mean we’re not keeping up our aspirations for reunification,” she said.
When asked whether South Korea’s new government was seeking engagement with North Korea, and whether the time was right for engagement in light of the death American student Otto Warmbier at the hands of the regime, Park said: “Yes, engagement is on the menu. No, it is not the right time to engage North Korea. The government wants to open the room to engagement if conditions are right in the future. We do not have a very concrete, clear description about conditions. It is subject to further consultation.”
She added: “The death of Otto Warmbier is very horrible, it reminds us of the horrible violation of human rights by North Korea.”
On the topic of South Korea’s plans to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system, and China’s reaction by urging boycotts of South Korean companies operating in China, Park said the government’s priority was protecting its people: “Probably it’s better not to try to please everybody. It is a critical asset to us to protect our own security. The priority is our national interest, our security. The top priority is not how to please the others.”
…we cannot rule out some intentional launch of missiles towards China under circumstances in the future.
She added that she was aware that China was concerned with how the system might be used – “they have their own concerns on the possible use of system to surveil what’s going on inside Chinese territory” – but said that her government was ready to discuss those concerns with China.
Having worked for many years at the Korean embassy in Beijing, Park also shed light on the threat felt by China from its ally North Korea. “The direction of missiles launched by North Korea is usually headed to South Korea western sea or eastern sea,” she said. “I think China had some worries about a possible mistake… or we cannot rule out some intentional launch of missiles towards China under circumstances in the future.”
Park also talked of the bridges South Korea is are attempting to build with Japan, with which it also has historical conflict, namely the use of Korean females as “comfort women” for Imperial Japanese soldiers during World War II. She said South Korea’s previous government had wanted to resolve historic matters before pressing on with any regional partnership.
“The previous government took the approach that we have to solve history problems first then liaise with Japan, but this approach actually didn’t bring any good result,” Park said. “So the new government has a two track approach: on one hand we’ll continue to work on history issues. On the other hand we will work with Japan to achieve common goals – solving the nuclear problems of North Korea and establishing peace in the region… creating synergy for economy, so many things that we can work together.”
When World War II ended in 1945, Japan lost control of Korea to Allied forces, leaving Korea to be divided in two, with the Soviet Union administering the northern half and the United States administering the southern half. Since then, the threat of nuclear annihilation as the north began developing nuclear capabilities has hung over the south.