In its annual report published on 15th of July, 2021, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) denounced the severe deterioration of press freedom, left “in tatters” by the government. The report most notably denounced the arrest of Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai and the forced closure of it’s media outlet, the increased censorship in public media, the China-imposed National Security Law and considered that the policies of such a “repressive government” not only damage the diversity of the city’s media scene but also its international reputation.
"Unfortunately, this report reflects the full extent of Hong Kong’s press freedom deterioration" says head of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia bureau Cédric Alviani, who calls on the international community “to put pressure on the Hong Kong government and Chinese regime to end their attacks against press freedom, a right enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”
A year after the adoption by China of National Security Law, at least ten journalists and press freedom defenders have been arrested under this law and are facing life sentences. To date, five of them are still detained, including Apple Daily founder and 2020 RSF Press Freedom Awards laureate Jimmy Lai. This regulation also justified, at the end of June, 2021 the freezing of last independent Chinese-language print media Apple Daily’s financial assets, hence forced to cease all its activity.
RSF has recently submitted two appeals urging the United Nations to “take all necessary measures” to safeguard press freedom in Hong Kong and obtain the immediate release of the Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai.
Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has fallen from 18th place in 2002 to 80th place in the 2021 RSF World Press Freedom Index. The People's Republic of China, the world’s largest captor of journalists with at least 119 detained, often in life-threatening conditions, for its part, has stagnated at 177th out of 180.