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Hong Kong press freedom declines in 2015

R0001924-CopyPress freedom further declined in Hong Kong in 2015, driven by growing self-censorship and government interference as Beijing expands its influence over the city’s boisterous media, according to the the International Federation of Journalists’ China Press Freedom Report released at the FCC on January 30.

“Press freedom in China, Hong Kong and Macau deteriorated further in 2015, as the Communist Party of China used every means at its disposal to control the media,” the report said. It also said the outlook in 2016 for the rest of mainland China will be even  “even worse”.

Lee-Bo-Protest-10.1-17-CopyThe report comes at a time when the fate of five Hong Kong booksellers – feared to have been detained in mainland China after disappearing late last year – has put Hongkongers on edge over concerns that the city’s freedoms are being eroded.

“There has been strong outcry from the Hong Kong people, with many concerned about their personal safety and freedom of speech,” the report said of sentiment after the disappearances.

The report also predicted China‘s ruling Communist Party will use resources to strengthen its influence in the city, which will hold elections for its legislature later in the year and for a new leader in 2017.

“As Hong Kong goes to elections next year the party is also using its considerable wealth to consolidate its influence over the region,” it said.

Last year’s report warned of “intervention behind the scenes” at a time when tensions remained high after more than two months of mass protests for fully free leadership eQrtHNUelections in late 2014.

Ken Tsang, a pro-democracy activist who was allegedly beaten by police during the protests in an attack captured by television cameras and beamed around the world, said the situation in Hong Kong was “terrible”.

“Maybe we can say we have lots of freedoms but somebody is threatening you at your back, I think all Hong Kong citizens can feel that,” Tsang told AFP after a court hearing on January 28. “The situation is not that good, we are terrified.”

Photos: HKFP

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