Two Hong Kong news organisations were barred from attending a reception organised by the local media sector in celebration of the upcoming Chinese National Day. They quoted the organisers as saying coverage of the event was invitation only.

Digital news outlets Stand News and Citizen News reported on Wednesday that they were denied access to a reception held in the Grant Hyatt Hotel, two days ahead of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Friday. They were not allowed to go in because they were “not invited,” event staff reportedly told the reporters from the two, registered media organisations.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends a reception in celebration of the 72nd National Day of the PRC hosted by Hong Kong media sector on September 29, 2021. Photo: GovHK.

Citizen News said their reporters were originally allowed to wait outside the banquet hall, but they were later asked to leave the hotel and wait in a barricaded area, making it impossible for their journalists to approach attendees of the event for interviews.

According to Beijing-backed newspaper Wen Wei Po, organisers of the celebratory event included Director of Broadcasting Patrick Li, who leads public broadcaster RTHK, Ta Kung Wen Wei Media Group’s Jiang Zaizhong, Hong Kong Economic Times Executive Director Eric Chan Cho-biu and state-run Xinhua News Agency’s Bai Lin.

Guests who made an appearance included Chief Executive Carrie Lam, deputy director of the China Liaison Office Lu Xinning and Deputy Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s office in Hong Kong Pan Yudong.

A photojournalist for Citizen News shares on Twitter that they were asked to wait inside a barricaded area outside the hotel.

“The national security law targets only an extremely small minority of people that endanger national security… press freedom continues to be adequately protected under the Basic Law and other local legislation,” Hong Kong leader Lam said when she made a speech at the reception.

The chief executive said “media friends” attending the event would remember the “difficult and dark days” during the 2019 protests. She claimed that those behind “black-clad violence” and pro-independence forces had promoted illegal acts in the name of news organisations, without making reference to a particular outlet.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends reception in celebration of the 72nd National Day of PRC hosted by Hong Kong media sector on September 29, 2021. Photo: GovHK.

“[They] distorted and vilified government messages, undertaking biased reporting, or even fabricating fake news,” she said.

Lam added she hoped the media industry could continue to uphold professionalism and allow Hong Kong citizens to better understand the latest developments and opportunities in China through “neutral and objective reporting and commentary.”

“I welcome friends from the media sector to continue discovering news, to keep monitoring the governance of the HKSAR government and give us suggestions,” she said.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.