Hong Kong opposition-camp media confuse right and wrong

By Zhao Juecheng, Li Fengxiang and Ling De in Hong Kong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/17 0:01:29

Recently, a journalist from the Chinese mainland was attacked by rioters in Hong Kong.

However, in a related statement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) mainly focused on the fact that the journalist in question was not carrying his press card. By not focusing on the violent acts of the rioters, the implication was that the journalist was to blame.

The Association's bias and use of double standards caused strong disagreement among Hong Kong residents. Some even went to protest outside the association's office.

The members of The Hong Kong Journalists Association Executive Committee are from various "yellow media" that support the opposition camp.

The recent performance of these "yellow media" is distressing, as they refer to black as white in reports, insult Hong Kong's Chief Executive, interfere in the regular enforcement of police, and serve as commanders of riots.

There is no doubt that their words and behavior, which go against basic journalism ethics and morals, are severely damaging Hong Kong. 

Pace setter

The Apple Daily is considered as the pace-setter of the "pro-democracy" media. The newspaper, which reads in traditional Chinese characters, was founded in 1995 by Jimmy Lai, one of the "Four who endanger Hong Kong."

The Apple Daily is dedicated to criticizing the Chinese government and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Media reported that Lai is a business man and a famous "anti-communist." He holds a close relationship with the Consulate General of the US in Hong Kong, and has been carrying out the consulate's orders to interfere in the politics of Hong Kong. Over the last five years, Lai has donated more than HK$50 million ($6.4 million) to "pro-democracy" parties. 

The Apple Daily claimed that HK$1 of the HK$3 cost of each purchased subscription plan would be donated to the legal aid fund for detained protesters. 

During the 2014 Occupy Central Movement, Lai not only provided funding to the protesters, but also published posters on the various media he owns free-of-charge. 

In July, Lai met with US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the US, and delivered a negative speech about Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong public has shown outrage toward Next Digital Ltd, which owns the Apple Daily. Wong Jing, a famous Hong Kong film director, said in a 2017 interview that Next Digital was being controlled by foreign forces, confusing right and wrong and destroying Hong Kong's younger generations.

Hong Kong media employees told the Global Times that the pro-establishment camp in Hong Kong has been complaining that many local media, such as the Apple Daily, do not confirm their statements after interview. It is often that one view is expressed during interview, and another is published. They have been refusing interviews with such media recently, as they have no way of knowing how their words will be twisted.

The Apple Daily is the most famous of the "yellow media," with the longest history. In recent years, other publicly-funded, "anti-communist" media have also emerged, including the Hong Kong Citizen News and the Stand News.

The Stand News was once suffering from financial difficulties, but with the furor surrounding the proposed anti-extradition bill intensifying, it was able to gain more readers through its clear opposition-camp stance. 

The news website frequently posts coverage of confrontations between rioters and police, claiming to be the bravest of media in daring to speak out when the police use violence. They have also "proudly" claimed that they "targeted" the police.

On August 11, a protestor's eye was seen by netizens being struck by her comrades during a riot. Hong Kong police said there's no evidence showing that the police shot a black-clad female protester in the eye and said it will investigate the incident. The Stand News published an article exaggerating the event by laying the blame on the police. "Were it not for the girl's glasses, she could have been killed at the age of 25," read the article. The writer also falsely reported that police fired their guns at protesters' heads.

'Ruthless' association

The Hong Kong Federation of Journalists (HKFJ) strongly condemns the recent violence against many journalists by protesters. The HKFJ consists of more than 30 media and 1,000 individual members. 

The Federation promotes exchanges between the Hong Kong press, the Chinese Mainland and the international community by hosting regular training programs with universities in the mainland on the topics of both professional practice and national conditions. Meanwhile, the HKFJ organizes visits to countries along the Belt and Road, the Greater Bay Area and various cities in China. 

The HKJA, however, acts otherwise. When Global Times reporter Fu Guohao was beaten by the mob at Hong Kong International Airport, and when journalists from the Chinese mainland were disturbed during interviews, the HKJA on Wednesday released a statement which obscured the bigger picture. After expressing regret, the statement placed its emphasis on calling for reporters to carry relevant documents to avoid misunderstandings. 

The HKJA has been criticized for freely handing out press cards.

Wat Wing Yin, a well-known media professional, recently revealed that it only costs about HK$150 (a HK$100 membership fee and a HK$50 application fee) to acquire a press card. It costs just HK$20 for students, who only need to supply a photograph and fill out a form. 

The threshold for joining the Association is so low that freelance bloggers or college journalism students can all apply to join. 

The HKJA has tried to defend itself, but it has been criticized for its unchanged, "anti-mainland" stance for 50 years. Every year, the HKJA publishes an annual report to demonize relations between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. 

On HKJA's website, the Global Times reporter noticed that the stance of its executive committee members is almost one-sided. Only two journalists from Apple Daily are serving as executive members. 

A senior Hong Kong media colleague referred to the HKJA as a civil society organization, and said there are many similar organizations in Hong Kong. The HKJA develops its individual members. 

During the violent protests in Hong Kong, some protesters were wearing fluorescent yellow vests which read "press." They were standing between police and the mobs, and were busy photographing the scene with their mobile phones and cameras. To some extent, these individuals obstructed the police's ability to enforce the law. Their behavior has been described by many as the "commander" of the riot.

The behavior of the HKJA has been described as "serious violations of the conduct of the press."

"HKJA plays the jackal to the tiger, it is totally ruthless," Gu Minkang, director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, wrote in his article published in the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao in July.

The article severely criticized the HKJA for their "double standards" amid the chaos of Hong Kong. It pointed out that when the Hong Kong TV station TVB was accused of being "red media" for playing scenes of opposition's violence, and was subjected to a series of boycotts by the opposition, the HKJA underreported the matter.

After the death of Peter Wong Man-kong, a Hong Kong entrepreneur and deputy to the National People's Congress in March, an Apple Daily columnist named Lee Yee published articles tarnishing Wong's image. 

Leung Chun-ying, former chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, suggested the public should stop buying products from the Apple Daily, calling on them to boycott the newspaper instead of supporting media that cross the bottom line of journalism ethics.

At an opposition rally, Lai used profanity to insult journalists who were conducting normal interviews on site, while the HKJA chose to be silent.

On another occasion, some reporters deliberately blocked police when they were preparing to clear the field, intending to help the rioters at the scene to escape.

In this situation, the HKJA issued a joint statement alleging the police used shields to push and even attack frontline reporters, which seriously hindered interviews and the release of news.

This claim by the HKJA has been criticized as "reversing right and wrong." It is seen by some as nothing more than an attempt to further discredit the police and combat morale.

Many members of "yellow media" are part of the executive committee of the HKJA, thus the organization itself is naturally biased toward such media.

Chris Yeung, chairman of the HKJA, is the chief writer of the Hong Kong Citizen News (HKCN). Both Yeung and the HKCN hold a "yellow media" stance. 

Yeung made a special trip to interview the former governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, who has been opposing the principle of "one country, two systems" and trying to disrupt Hong Kong.

There are also two HKJA executive members, both from the Stand News, who seem to support the violent protests currently taking place in Hong Kong. There are also representatives from Radio Television Hong Kong on the HKJA executive committee. As a member of the public media, RTHK has recently been criticized for apparently showing its favor toward protesters.

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