News

July 1, 2021 - Updated on July 2, 2021

Open letter to Xi in four Nordic dailies about Hong Kong press freedom

Four leading Nordic dailies have published an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping denouncing press freedom violations in Hong Kong. “The world can no longer stand idly by as China gradually sucks the air out of freedom of the press in Hong Kong,” says the letter published today, the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist party, in Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter, Norway’s Aftenposten, Denmark’s Politiken and Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) supports this initiative and is reposting the letter, written jointly by the editors of the four newspapers.

”To the People’s Republic of China”

Four leading newspapers from the Nordic countries join in a protest against China’s violation of freedom of the press in Hong Kong. The protest follows the closure of the newspaper Apple Daily and is published on the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party.

  

It has been too much for a long time. Now, enough is enough. The world can no longer stand idly by as China gradually sucks the air out of freedom of the press in Hong Kong. Our hope that China would live up to its assurances and promises that basic democratic civil liberties would be defended and protected in Hong Kong has been dwindling lately, while our fear and disdain has been growing.

 

The last – possibly naive – hope regrettably died when the independent newspaper Apple Daily collapsed under the violation of freedom of the press by the authorities. We watch with growing concern as our profession – free, independent, and critical journalism – is criminalized. And we watch with growing concern as this development affects one media outlet after the other, most recently Apple Daily, in the Hong Kong that once held so much promise. Before that, it was Radio Television Hong Kong that was placed under the control of the authorities, while the police was granted new powers to censor the internet.

 

Media owners, producers and journalists are prosecuted and thrown in jail for working in their profession and doing their job as the voice of the public.

And the list goes on …

 

We are a group of editors-in-chief from the leading newspapers in the Nordic countries that wish to express our backing and moral support for our colleagues at Apple Daily and other media outlets in Hong Kong that have been robbed of the opportunity to provide unhindered and uncensored critical journalism on behalf of the public. We protest against the Chinese rulers that like to portray themselves as a benevolent power. But there is nothing benevolent in a state attacking a free press. There is nothing noble in that.

On the contrary, we see the attacks on the free press as a sign of weakness. They reflect a government that in spite of great progress in many other areas in recent decades, can hardly believe that it exists for the benefit of the people. Otherwise, there would be no reason to suppress it.

 

We believe that every time Beijing suppresses opposition and criticism, the spirit of resistance grows. For every time a media outlet is suppressed, a new one will hopefully emerge.

 

Therefore, it is time to change course. It is now – at the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party – that the People’s Republic of China must live up to its name as a republic for the people and not just for its rulers.

 

The defence of a free press is part of that battle. And we will not just be a part of that defence. We will intensify it and open our newspapers to an even more intensive coverage of the frightening developments in Hong Kong. We will do it by using that freedom of the press that is denied our colleagues in Hong Kong.

 

One can hold back the truth and freedom with power. But only for a time. We must stand together to show that the force of enlightenment will win in the end. We must stand together to show that information that may be censored in Hong Kong will emerge somewhere else in the world. We must stand together.

 

Peter Wolodarski, editor-in-chief, Dagens Nyheter 

 Christian Jensen, editor-in-chief, Politiken 

 Trine Eilertsen, editor-in-chief, Aftenposten, 

 Kaius Niemi, editor-in-chief, Helsingin Sanomat