The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) has been slammed for supporting “violence, terrorist attacks and inciting sedition” by the Beijing authorities shortly after it released its annual press freedom report titled ‘Freedom in Danger’.
“The law itself has overriding power so that means in the name of national security… virtually all protections to free speech and free press are meaningless…I think the present situation now is that you’re OK until you’re not OK. When they think you’re not OK, then you’ll be in trouble,” the HKJA was quoted saying during the launch of the report.
Stanley Ng Chau-pei, deputy to the National People’s Congress in Beijing and President of the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, in his Facebook account said, “For the past year, HKJA has supported violence, terrorist attacks and incited sedition. It has not stopped and has sanctimoniously aired concerns about freedoms in order to subvert the state.”
“Their conduct has been extremely shameful and hypocritical! The national security bureau and justice department must bring them to justice!” he added.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has opined, “It is not a question of me standing here to give you a guarantee of what you may or may not do in the days and weeks and years ahead.”
HKJA Chairperson Chris Yeung has stated that the police force “will intensify its use of force and tougher tactics to handle protesters.”
“Media, as the fourth power and journalists as the eyes and ears of the people, have the duty of monitoring the violation of laws and regulations by those with public power. They will be confronted with more suppression from the central government and Hong Kong government and the pro-establishment camp,” the report added.
The report has, however, warned of a “chilling effect” resulting in self-censorship, thus, undermining the press freedom in the city.
The new national security law, which was passed by Beijing on the night of June 30, prohibits the Central government views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in the semi-autonomous territory’s internal affairs.
The law gives the police sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
Critics see the law as Beijing’s boldest move yet to erase the divide between Hong Kong’s Western-style system and mainland China’s authoritarian way of governing as it erodes the special freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong, which has operated under a “one country, two systems” framework since China took control of the city from Britain in 1997.