FCC Statement on Journalist Visas in Hong Kong
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is aware of recent examples of delays involving the issuing of visas to foreign journalists in Hong Kong, as well as suggestions by the Chinese government that more foreign journalists could face repercussions in response to U.S. actions. The FCC calls on the Trump administration to lift its restrictions on Chinese media working in the U.S., and on Hong Kong and China’s governments to refrain from retribution in targeting U.S. media and journalists working in Hong Kong.
The FCC opposes using journalists’ visas as a weapon in international disputes and also opposes taking action against journalists for the decisions made by their home countries.
The editor of China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper has suggested American journalists based in Hong Kong will be targeted in retaliation for the Trump administration’s actions against Chinese journalists in the U.S. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned of “necessary and timely countermeasures” in response to “the unreasonable suppression of Chinese media outlets in the U.S.”
In Hong Kong, several media outlets have published reports about delays in issuing new or renewed visas to journalists working in the city. The delays have affected journalists of multiple nationalities and in some cases have prevented journalists from working. The delays are highly unusual for Hong Kong, a city with historically robust press protections.
The FCC has urged the Hong Kong government to clarify the impact of the new national security law on journalists working in the city, and has asked the government to guarantee, among other things, that journalists will be free to continue their work without intimidation or obstruction. So far, Hong Kong authorities have not provided such clarity or guarantees.
This downward spiral of retaliatory actions aimed at journalists helps no one, not least of all the public that needs accurate, professionally produced information now more than ever.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong considers it unfair and self-defeating for China to hold journalists responsible for the actions of the U.S. government. It also condemns the restrictions placed on Chinese journalists in the U.S., who are being singled out unjustifiably for punitive treatment by the Trump administration.
Hong Kong thrives on the free flow of information. Its role as a global financial hub depends on its reputation as an international centre that respects media freedom, eschews censorship and where the population has unfettered access to news and information.
Restricting journalists in Hong Kong by reducing their numbers and interfering with their ability to report freely will damage Hong Kong’s international standing and reputation.