Hong Kong: 2022 ‘Mis-happenings’

Hong Kong’s free press has started to a disappointing start in 2022. The Cantonese Citizen News, among
the last remaining important independent news outlets in Hong Kong, was the newest to close its shutters,
announcing its closure on Sunday, days after the closing of Stand News. Radio Free Asia’s Lau Siu Fung
and Raymond Chung explained how Citizen News had to say goodbye to its readers over the weekend.
According to a post by Citizen News on its Facebook page, it stated that it’ll shut all its offices down from 4th January 2022 and the website will be no longer updated in the future.
“It is with great sadness that we thank all of our subscribers for their support; we will carry your deep love
with us, recorded in our memories,” The award-winning organization which was crowdfunded in 2017with
over 800,000 followers informed its followers through their website.
Chris Yeung, the former president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the lead writer of Citizen
News, informed the media “the decision to shut down was made within a very short span of time. The
trigger point is the fate of Stand News.”Another important motive in Citizen News’ decision to shut down,
was the ambiguity about whether its reporting had infringed any laws under the new Chinese national
security framework.
The move followed a police raid on Stand News last week, during which many people were arrested on
sedition charges. China’s new restrictions, according to observers, have created a state of fear, suffocating
any free speech. Citizen News is among Hong Kong’s last Chinese-language pro-democracy publications.
According to Helen Davidson of the Guardian, Citizen News was unwilling to put its staff’s life at risk to
accomplish its aim of fearless journalism.
Stand News and Citizen News were part of a burgeoning media ecosystem in Hong Kong that covered pro-democracy protests. They didn’t run many commercials but relied on donations. They were designed with
internet readers in mind, frequently live streaming protests for hours at a time.
Since the National Security Law went into force in July 2020, barely a few media outlets in Hong Kong
have remained unaffected. The public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) has gone from
being a watchdog to becoming a lapdog. Apple Daily had closed abruptly last June and Stand News has
shut down this week with Hong Kong is now the city’s oldest autonomous Chinese-language internet outlet,
with the Hong Kong Free Press serving as its English-language equivalent. InMedia, a Hong Kong-based
Chinese-language news organization, had relocated earlier to Singapore in August.
Further, Hong Kong police disassembled the “Pillar of Shame memorial” to the victims of the Tiananmen
Square tragedy and transported it off the University campus of Hong Kong (HKU) under high security and
barricades to prohibit media access. The sculpture has been on campus for almost two decades. Even that
had to be dismantled and removed, and it was done in the middle of the night.
As the sculpture came down, nobody saw what was going on. Several saw the unannounced removal as
another betrayal of the city’s essence. As officials dismantled the famed “Goddess of Democracy”
monument from the University of Hong Kong, CUHK students were seen reconstructing it using
For decades, Hong Kong boasted of being China’s “conscience,” the only location on Chinese soil that had
not forgotten the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. However, the yearly candlelight vigil commemorating
the tragic episode, which has become part of Hong Kong’s communal memory, was permitted by Beijing.
The organizer, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, was
forced to disband under national security laws, and several protest organizers were imprisoned. Beijing has
made it clear that it would not allow any public displays of disobedience.
As per Nikkei Asia, two additional Hong Kong universities have followed the University of Hong Kong’s
lead in deconstructing a sculpture honouring the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in a
late-night operation.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) stated that a monument known as the Goddess of
Democracy, which had been on campus since 2010, had also to be dismantled, while Lingnan University
claimed a wall sculpture commemorating the crackdown has been demolished. Chen Weiming, a Chineseborn New Zealand citizen living in the United States, created both these pieces of art.
According to Samuel Chu, the founder and president of Campaign for Hong Kong, “removing the public
statues only reveals the statue-shaped hole in the hearts [and] minds of all of us.” Reflecting on “the fragility
of what we and those who came before us had built,”
Woo Yat-wa a CUHK student was shocked to learn about the statue’s removal, he states, that that the
government was afraid of a statue and under these uncertain times, nothing is guaranteed till the last
politically sensitive items will be removed.
In February 2021, CUHK severed relations with its student union, accusing them of “exploiting” the
university for their political goal and cited possible national security legislation violations as reasons. Eight
months later, they were officially terminated.
A new amendment to the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance took effect from the start of the
year. Hong Kong schools will have to hold weekly flag-raising ceremonies and prohibit any act by which
inverting or inappropriately disposing of the national flag is seen local police have been advised to support
schools in preparation for the ceremonies. These will be streamed to classrooms. While the law only applies
to basic and secondary schools, institutions have hosted national flag-raising ceremonies in the last week,
according to local media. HKU and PolyU, for example, raised flagpoles just days after dismantling their
memorials. Thousands of students have left Hong Kong schools to pursue education overseas because of
these developments
Citizens are still being penalized. Chow Hang-tung, a barrister and former head of the now-defunct Hong
Kong Alliance, was sentenced to 15 months in jail for instigating an unlawful rally in 2021 to commemorate
the Tiananmen Square massacre. Chow will have to spend five months of the new term simultaneously
with her 12-month sentence for organizing the 2020 Tiananmen Square vigil, giving her a total of 22 months
in prison. Chow, was representing herself in court, sacrificing her mitigation argument to share the voices
of the victims of the Tiananmen Square tragedy, according to Candice Chau of the Hong Kong Free Press