Shutdown of Stand News, Citizen News nothing to do with press freedom: HK chief
Published: Jan 04, 2022 01:29 PM
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Photo: VCG

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Photo: VCG

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the shutdown of Stand News and Hong Kong Citizen News has nothing to do with press freedom in Hong Kong. 

Lam told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday morning that Citizen News decided to shut down its business due to its own "concerns" and that the outlet wasn't forced to do so. She added that press conferences of the local government are open to all media outlets. If new media outlets appear, as long as they are not engaged in illegal activities, they can continue reporting in Hong Kong, she said. 

Hong Kong's online news outlet, Citizen News, was scheduled to stop operations on Tuesday, a decision that was made following the shutdown of Stand News. While the site's staff claimed that the decision was made over the concerns on whether future coverage will violate the law, observers said such an ambiguous stance cannot disguise the fact that Citizen News has played a notorious role in instigating social divergence and defying the constitutional order of Hong Kong.

Following charges against several senior staff members from Stand News for colluding and publishing seditious publications, legal experts and officials in Hong Kong said this proper regulation of media shows that the freedom of the speech cannot be used as a political tool to challenge national security and the rule of law. There is no place for anti-China tools to exist in Hong Kong in the name of free press, the experts said. 

Lam also refuted reports that said the overall press environment in Hong Kong has deteriorated since the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong. Since the law took effect, the number of registered local media in HKSAR government press department has increased by 5.4 percent, and the number of registered foreign media increased by 9.5 percent, Lam said. 

The fate of Stand News and Citizen News can't be incidents to use in judging whether press freedom is damaged, she noted. The national security laws in Western countries are much more rigorous, and if the fate of these two media outlets is related to the national security law, we can say there is no press freedom in Western countries, Lam noted.