Reporters Without Borders (RSF) decries China’s attempt to intimidate the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong (FCCHK) from hosting Andy Chan, 27, founder of the first pro-independence party, of a very minor presence in Hong Kong.
RSF urges Beijing to respect freedom of the press, which is written in the Basic law signed by China before handover. “It is a matter of professional responsibility for journalists to hear the views of different sides in any debate, and it is natural that the FCCHK would invite speakers representative of all non-violent political tendencies”, said Cédric Alviani, the director of RSF's East Asia bureau. « The Chinese authorities are clearly trying to extend their policy of intimidating foreign journalists to the territory of Hong Kong. »
Last week, the local bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a representative urging the club to cancel the event, which refused to comply. Carrie Lam, the current Chief Executive of Hong Kong, said the talk is “regrettable and inappropriate.” Her predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, stated that talking of the Hong Kong independence is “an absolute red line” comparable to the promotion of “racism, anti-semitism or Nazism.”
The luncheon finally took place today, August 14th, with a full house and a live video broadcast, despite a few dozen of pro-Beijing protestors and a heavy police presence outside the clubhouse. However, the club’s website is currently inaccessible, apparently victim of a cyber-attack. The FCCHK, founded in 1947, is an institution that counts 2000 members and hosts a wide array of speakers and panellists.
In a recent report, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) denounced a new 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.