onsdag 2. juni 2021

‘No political story allowed’: Hong Kong broadcaster falls silent on sensitive subjects

Normally at this time of year Hong Kong media are bustling to prepare coverage of Friday’s anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre which, before Covid restrictions hit, usually included a huge vigil in Victoria Park. The event is illegal in China but had been proudly held in Hong Kong for decades. But this year journalists at the respected public broadcaster RTHK say they’ve been told to stand down.

“We were informed that no political story is allowed,” says Emily*, an RTHK employee who, along with others interviewed for this article, asked for anonymity to speak freely. “We think it’s kind of funny because what isn’t a political story now?”

After mass pro-democracy protests in 2019, the Hong Kong government’s worsening crackdown on dissent over the past two years has also targeted press freedom. Once ranked 18th in the world press freedom index, Hong Kong now sits at 80th. RTHK is bearing the brunt, and many in the industry fear those in power intend to turn it into a propaganda department. Chris Yeung, head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, says the patience the government and pro-establishment camp once had for RTHK’s editorial freedom has run out.