Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have expressed grave concern over the suppression of independent media in Hong Kong by the Chinese authorities in the past months.
A joint statement issued on Tuesday was signed by the government of more than 21 countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition express their deep concern at the Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities’ attacks on freedom of the press and their suppression of independent local media in Hong Kong,” the joint statement said on Tuesday (local time).
“Recent developments include the raid of Stand News offices, the arrests of its staff, and the subsequent self-closure of Citizen News, stemming from concern over the safety of its staff. Since the enactment of the National Security Law in June 2020, authorities have targeted and suppressed independent media in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” it also said.
“This has eroded the protected rights and freedoms set out in the Basic Law and undermines China’s obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. This has also caused the near-complete disappearance of local independent media outlets in Hong Kong. These ongoing actions further undermine confidence in Hong Kong’s international reputation through the suppression of human rights, freedom of speech and free flow and exchange of opinions and information,” the statement further added.
The coalition countries also urged Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities to respect freedom of the press and freedom of speech in the region, in line with the Basic Law and China’s obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
In past months, crackdowns against news organizations and pro-democracy activists have intensified in Hong Kong.
On January 3, the independent Hong Kong news site Citizen News has announced that it will shut down to “ensure the safety of everyone”, days after the city’s national security police raided another independent online news outlet over allegations of sedition.
On December 29 last year, the arrests and raid on the offices of the now-defunct news outlet Stand News attracted condemnation from the United Nations, the European Union as well as other countries including the US, Germany, and Canada.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)