Media Freedom Coalition or Misleading and Fooling Coalition?
Published: Jan 05, 2024 09:05 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

As people around the world were preparing to usher in the new year, evil-minded schemers were using a magnifying glass to pick "holes" in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), China. On December 29, 2023, under the name of the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC), the governments of the US, UK and other countries released a statement saying that they remain deeply concerned of Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland's "continued attacks on freedom of the press and suppression of independent local media in Hong Kong."

What is the MFC? This sounds like an authoritative international media organization. Actually, it is no different from a "mutated" political club, in which some Western countries collaborate with each other and continue touting their clichés.

This time, the MFC elaborately concocted a story that the government of HKSAR prolonged prosecutions of the Stand News team and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, barred journalists from covering government press briefings, and removed material from public broadcasting archives. However, as far as we can see, the statement is just a game of bluff, and is lacking in sufficient evidence. Although the statement used appalling words such as "a chilling effect," "loss of editorial independence," the coalition wasn't able to supply detailed information about the aforementioned ban and removal, which raised people's doubts about its motives.

The MFC was created by an exclusive political group, and is by its very nature nothing but another hired bully used to attack the HKSAR verbally. If press freedom advocated by the MFC is considered an impregnable and unwavering tenet of its principles, the coalition should rethink its members' attitudes toward this noble value, especially when something disgraceful took place on their territory.

This is illustrated by numerous examples of how some Western countries' "merits" of double standards and hypocrisy have been inherited by the MFC. In June 2021, the US Department of Justice shut down more than 30 Iranian media websites on grounds of violating sanctions. In 2020, the US expelled more than 60 Chinese journalists and indiscriminately shortened the visas for all Chinese journalists to three months. Why did the MFC show such callous disregard for the predicament faced by these media workers and journalists?

In fact, for some Western politicians, press freedom not only serves as an ostensible reason for protecting human rights, but also a valuable chip to out-compete and outmaneuver their so-called adversaries. If somebody meddles in their filthy affairs, it is highly possible they will be placed on the World's Most Wanted List by those dressed-up gentlemen and end up like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, with human rights, including press freedom, cast aside.

According to a spokesperson for the HKSAR government, there are currently 213 local, mainland, and overseas media organizations registered in the government, an increase of 39 percent compared to 2018. As long as media workers observe laws, the freedom to comment and criticize government policies will not be restricted. So why were a few people prosecuted under such benign circumstances? Facts prove that Jimmy Lai's actions that endangered national security were what led him to detention and prosecution. Hence, Jimmy Lai's case has had nothing to do with press freedom.

If the MFC is so eager to extend its concern to journalists, why didn't they pay the slightest attention to those media workers who were threatened, assaulted, and had petrol bombs thrown at them during the Hong Kong riots in 2019? At that time, the MFC should have denounced the mobsters and those who supported them implicitly, such as Jimmy Lai, the Stand News team, and so on.

As mentioned above, with its notorious history of double standards on protecting press freedom, the members of the MFC made irresponsible remarks about the HKSAR government, solidifying its status as a misleading and fooling coalition (MFC). The MFC's blatant rumors and its attempts to disrupt Hong Kong are certain to prove futile.

The author is a current affairs commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn