Based in Hong Kong as Financial Times Asia news editor until last month, when he was given seven days to pack his bags and leave, Victor Mallet was refused entry on 8 November when he tried to reenter as a visitor, which British citizens can normally do without a visa.
The authorities have not explained these unusual decisions but they appear to be punishing him because, as vice-president of the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Hong Kong (FCCHK), he chaired a talk at the club in August with a Hong Kong independence activist as guest speaker. It went ahead despite warnings from the authorities and a cyber-attack on the club’s website.
“By persecuting Victor Mallet, the Hong Kong authorities are clearly trying to set an example that will push other journalists to censor themselves,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau.
“We condemn the ploys used by Beijing to restrict press freedom in Hong Kong although the principle is clearly spelled out in the Basic Law that has been in effect in the special administrative region ever since it was returned to China.”
This latest blow to freedom of expression and information came just days after an exhibition of works by Badiucao, an Australian cartoonist of Chinese descent, had to be cancelled at the last minute because of threats. It had been due to open on 3 November as part of a Free Expression Week in Hong Kong.
In a recent report, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) denounced the continuous fall in press freedom in the former British colony. Originally placed 18th at the creation of the RSF World Press Freedom Index in 2002, Hong Kong is now ranked 70th out of 180. As for China, it ranks 176th out of 180 countries and territories evaluated.