RSF holds first capacity-building seminar for Hong Kong journalists exiled in the UK
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) held its first capacity-building seminar in London last week to support journalists forced to flee Hong Kong because of a crackdown there on independent media.
Hundreds of journalists have left Hong Kong since the adoption of the national security law in 2020, many of whom are now based in London. The seminar organised by RSF, which included training and networking events for around twenty journalists exiled in the UK, Taiwan and Germany, aimed to address the challenges they face, improve their resilience, and strengthen their support networks.
“Journalists fleeing Hong Kong have shown enormous resilience but face many challenges as they try to find resources and networks abroad to continue reporting. Holding this seminar in the UK – which hosts more recently exiled journalists than anywhere else – provided an excellent opportunity to offer skills training, share experience and explore avenues for future support.
Participants in the seminar, which ran from 18-19 January on the theme “Supporting Exiled media community and journalists from China, including Hong Kong in the United Kingdom”, developed their investigative skills, learned about media resources available in the UK, and explored how to report on Hong Kong and China when you cannot be on the ground. Participants also had a chance to discuss their practice with other international journalists and to meet local NGOs to discuss how international organisations and government entities can more effectively support media in exile.
RSF trained 700 journalists in China and Hong Kong
The seminar is part of an ambitious capacity-building programme for journalists covering China, including Hong Kong, developed by RSF in the past three years. Almost 700 journalists have already benefited from more than 43 sessions online and in person in Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese and English.
In 2021, RSF also launched the Resource for Journalists’ Safety (safety.rsf.org) website, available in English and Chinese, which gives journalists advice on online and offline security, providing better protection for their sources, and improving their knowledge of journalistic ethical standards.
The introduction of Beijing-imposed national security law in Hong Kong in 2020 has taken a great toll on the right to information in the territory with hundreds of journalists seeking refuge in the UK, Taiwan, the US, Canada and Australia. The law has been routinely used as a pretext by the Chinese regime to prosecute journalists and press freedom defenders, including publisher Jimmy Lai, whose trial is ongoing. The government also forcibly shut down independent daily newspapers Apple Daily and Stand News, while six other media outlets had no other choice but to disband due to pressure.
Hong Kong ranks 140th out of 180 in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index, having plummeted down from 18th place in the span of two decades. China itself ranks 179th out of 180 countries and territories evaluated.