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World Press Freedom Day Meets the Decline of Journalism in Hong Kong

Committee News

Ahead of World Press Freedom Day, which marked Jimmy Lai’s 853rd day of detention in Hong Kong, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation lit up London’s Canary Wharf to spotlight jailed journalists around the world. The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation also partnered with politicians, activists, and journalists to create a video declaring that journalism is not a crime and urging the Hong Kong authorities to immediately release Mr Lai.

The National Review via the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation featured Jimmy Lai on World Press Freedom Day, writing about Mr Lai’s detention in Hong Kong for simply daring to publish the truth.

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation attended Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index launch event. Hong Kong ranks 140th out of 180 countries for press freedom, largely due to the National Security Law reducing “Hong Kong’s independent press to none”.

Xi Jinping's deputy and Hong Kong's oppressor Han Zheng will visit Britain to attend King Charles III's coronation and is expected to meet with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, Hong Kong Watch, Stand with Hong Kong, and Hongkongers in Britain released a joint statement urging the Foreign Secretary to raise the case of British citizen Jimmy Lai and Hong Kongers' Mandatory Provident Funds with Han Zheng himself.

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation's UK and EU Director, Mark Sabah, responded to Han Zheng's visit to the UK, telling The Daily Mail, "The man who is responsible for the destruction of an international treaty is being welcomed by James Cleverly. It's like inviting your abuser into your own home. China is a threat to our national security and we need to toughen up our stance."

Britain's Consul General in Hong Kong reported that the British government is "looking to lean back into a constructive engagement to see where we can collaborate [with Hong Kong]". The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation's Mark Sabah told The Guardian this reveals "the actual policy of the FCDO which is openness and trade". There is nothing wrong with trade and investment, but there is something wrong with implying that the UK will bend to the will of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation's Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, Frances Hui, called for the release of Hong Kong political activist and former journalist Gwyneth Ho at Amnesty International Group 133's Get on the Bus 2023 event. Ms Hui said, "Behind bars [Ms Ho] continues to use her words and writings to encourage people outside".

Photon Media featured the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation's Frances Hui's journey of becoming an exile who advocates for Hong Kong. Ms Hui opened up about her family's concern for her safety, her relocation to the United States, and her realisation of the differences between Hong Kong and China as she began to exercise her rights and freedom.

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation’s Mark Sabah challenged Chinese companies’ investment in British universities. Mr Sabah told The Epoch Times, “Huawei is not investing millions in Chaucer and Shakespeare, they are investing money in research and technology for communications satellites, etc. Universities are an astonishingly vulnerable part of our system when it comes to infiltration and persuasion.”

This week’s blog was authored by Patrick Lew, a Hong Konger who migrated to Britain in 2021. Mr Lew highlights Hong Kongers’ excitement towards the coronation and disappointment in the British government’s welcome of China’s Vice President Han Zheng. Mr Lew wrote, “Han Zheng and the members of the Chinese Communist Party will not be welcomed by Hong Kongers in Britain as they represent the demise of the international metropolis that every Hong Konger once called home.”

Jimmy Lai

Jimmy Lai’s lawyer in Hong Kong declared that the Hong Kong authorities blocking Mr Lai from being represented by his counsel of choice is “persecution not prosecution”. Mr Lai’s legal team argued that the national security committee should leave it to the court to decide whether British barrister Timothy Owen be allowed to defend Mr Lai.

After the Acton Institute’s global premiere of The Hong Konger: Jimmy Lai’s Extraordinary Struggle for Freedom, which has received over 1.4 million views, TikTok suspended the Acton Institute’s TikTok account which was used to promote the film. Despite the account’s partial restoration, the message is clear that TikTok takes direction from the Chinese Communist Party despite TikTok’s CEO’s recent testimony before the US Congress.

For World Press Freedom Day, PEN International launched a campaign to send letters of solidarity to Jimmy Lai who has been imprisoned in Hong Kong for 855 days (as of May 5). You can write to Mr Lai here.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s number of democratically-elected District Council seats has dropped twenty percent from its current level. This is a blatant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and a blow to Hong Kong’s freedom.

Investigative journalist Bao Choy has appealed her conviction over using vehicle information to trace the perpetrators of the Yuen Long attack during Hong Kong's 2019 pro-democracy protests. Ms Choy's case will ultimately depend on how the court interprets "related" in her charge for "traffic and transport-related matters".

A single mother in Hong Kong was arrested after sharing more than sixty “seditious” social media posts. Her 12-year-old son wrote to the Hong Kong court, begging them to “let my mother return home”.

What was once Hong Kong schools’ Liberal Studies course has become Citizenship and Social Development, which focuses on national security and identity.

UK-China Relations

At the British All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong’s report launch event last week, Parliamentary security confiscated leaflets and reports on press freedom in Hong Kong to prevent “political upset”.

During a debate on foreign policy in the House of Lords, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Minister Lord Goldsmith urged Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to raise the case of Jimmy Lai with China’s Vice President Han Zheng, who will visit Britain for the King’s coronation. Lord David Alton underscored the urgent need for the British government to do more to help British citizen Jimmy Lai.

During British Parliament’s Prime Minister Questions, John Whittingdale MP urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to help secure the immediate release of Jimmy Lai and to defend media freedom worldwide.

As British Parliament debated the National Security Bill, Holly Lynch MP highlighted the “unacceptable harassment reported by Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC and her colleagues acting on behalf of the British national Jimmy Lai, the pro-democracy newspaper owner currently detained in Hong Kong”.

US-China Relations

For World Press Freedom Day, Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reintroduced a resolution "recognizing widening threats to freedom of the press and free expression around the world". The resolution aims to combat the Chinese Communist Party's targeting of Hong Kong's media freedom and detention of newspaper owner Jimmy Lai.

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