Hong Kong’s leader John Lee said journalists are “in the same boat” as him and that he hopes the news sector will join him in promoting the success of One Country, Two Systems to the world.

John Lee Exco Executive council Regina Yip
John Lee. File photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

Speaking via a video call at an Handover anniversary celebration event organised by the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Journalists on Saturday, Lee said journalists now shoulder an important responsibility as Hong Kong is currently at its “key moment” of transiting from stability to prosperity.

According to the former police officer, journalists “must see themselves as professionals” and value journalism ethics. “I hope the news sector will join me in presenting the narrative of Hong Kong,” he said.

“We have to publicise the successful experience of One Country, Two Systems to the world, and [publicise] Hong Kong’s extraordinary achievements under its unique advantages.”

press reporter journalist news camera Legco
Hong Kong journalists. File photo: Rhoda Kwan/HKFP.

“We need to use all possible means, from newspapers, TV [and] radio to the internet, new media and social media, to promote the competitiveness of Hong Kong from all directions,” he added.

At the end of his speech, Lee said he and journalists are “in the same family” and “in the same boat.”

Press freedom concerns

Lee was the city’s security chief when Beijing imposed the sweeping national security legislation on Hong Kong two years ago. Since the onset of the law, two newsrooms have been raided, and consequently shut down, after their top editors were arrested over national security or sedition charges.

In the run up to the leadership race in which he ran uncontested, Lee had said press freedom already exists in the city and there was no need to ask him to “defend” it.

National security law
File Photo: GovHK.

Lee’s administration has pledged to regulate “fake news,” crowd-funding, as well as push forward the legislative work of Article 23 – Hong Kong’s local security law that has been at the centre of the city’s political debates for two decades.

Most recently, multiple media organisations, international and local – HKFP included – were barred from attending the city’s 25th Handover anniversary celebrations. HKFP was later told by authorities that disclosing the media invite list “would harm or prejudice Hong Kong’s security.”

Patriotic education

Lee also spoke at the opening ceremony of a patriotic education centre founded by pro-Beijing group Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers on Saturday.

John Lee patriotic education centre
Chief Executive John Lee speaks at the opening ceremony of the Patriotic Education Centre on July 16, 2022. Photo: GovHK.

Lee said some people had “colluded with foreign forces, misguided young people’s views towards the nation and stigmatized national education” in the past.

But now, the government will implement patriotic education with “full effort… to righteously correct young people’s wrong values,” he added.

According to Lee, the Education Bureau will support schools on planning and imposing national education “systematically,” so that students can “correctly understand the country’s history, experience Chinese culture and values, respect the symbols of the nation, recognise the importance of the Constitution, Basic Law and national security law and nurture their national identities.”

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.