Hong Kong’s press freedom has suffered serious setbacks since the Beijing-imposed national security law came into force in June last year. In recent weeks public broadcaster RTHK has been hit by a series of crackdowns and documentary producer Bao Choy was convicted of making false statements to obtain public vehicle licence plate records. The government plans to restrict media access to public records and legislate against “fake news” as the city approaches Press Freedom Day 2021.

HKFP has rounded up major events damaging press freedom since the enactment of the security law.

Photo: Studio Incendo.

July 2020

August 2020

File photo: KH/United Social Press.

September 2020

Inside the Red Brick Wall. Photo: Ying E Chi Cinema, via Facebook.

October 2020

  • National security police raided the private office of Jimmy Lai.
  • A district councillor was given a suspended prison sentence for publicly identifying the policeman who allegedly shot an Indonesian journalist in the eye.

November 2020

Jimmy Lai. File Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

December 2020

January 2021

  • The Hong Kong government announced a decision to move Covid-19 press briefings online. It backtracked following criticism from a Hong Kong journalism watchdog.
  • Police demanded Apple Daily hand over the information on journalists who searched for public vehicle licence plate records.
  • Police visited the newsrooms of Apple Daily, InMedia and StandNews with search warrants demanding documents relating to the primary election for LegCo in July 2020.
  • The head of RTHK, Leung Ka-wing, advised staff not to interview the 55 democrats arrested under the national security law over their alleged involvement in the primary.
  • Three people convicted of rioting and assaulting a mainland journalist at the airport during anti-government protests in 2019 were jailed for up to 5 1/2 years.
  • Bao Choy pleaded not guilty to making false statements after she obtained vehicle registration information for a film about the 2019 Yuen Long mob attacks.
  • The head of Hong Kong’s largest police union slammed public broadcaster RTHK for allegedly biased reporting of a weekend lockdown to combat Covid-19.
A silent protest staged by the RTHK union to support their colleague Nabela Qoser. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

February 2021

World Press Photo Exhibition in Hong Kong. Photo: World Press Photo Exhibition Hong Kong, via Facebook.

March 2021

Press freedom in 2021. Photo: RSF.

April 2021

Journalist Bao Choy appears in court on April 22, 2021. Photo: Studio Incendo.
  • RTHK rejected a media award for a TV documentary about the police handling of the Yuen Long mob attack in 2019.
  • The Hong Kong government criticised a Reporters Without Borders report which warned that the national security law poses a “grave threat” to journalists in the city.
  • Hong Kong documentary producer Bao Choy was found guilty and fined HK$6,000 for knowingly making false statements to obtain vehicle ownership records for the RTHK programme on the Yuen Long mob attacks of 2019.
  • Police confirmed that a journalist from Ta Kung Pao was arrested in February for making false statements to obtain public vehicle records.
  • The Foreign Correspondents’ Club urged Hong Kong’s police chief to clarify his recent comments about “foreign forces” attempting to stir hatred and conflict in the city using disinformation.
  • Beijing accused the FCC of being an external force interfering with China’s internal affairs and undermining the city’s rule of law.
  • A fifth senior staffer resigned from RTHK.
  • RTHK signed up Chief Executive Carrie Lam to host her own daily show on Beijing’s electoral overhaul for the city.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.