China Seen Tilting Hong Kong's Media

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 17, 2002 | Go to article overview

China Seen Tilting Hong Kong's Media


Byline: John Sheridan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Four and a half years after Hong Kong's return to China, the territory's government is creating an environment of media self-censorship and is influencing reporting on issues sensitive to Chinese leadership, a journalist group says.

"This is done by favoring those journalists and media organizations that are not overly critical of the government," says Cliff Bale, a Hong Kong journalist and one of the authors of the report.

The favors take the form of "government leaks, one-on-one interviews," he says.

The 2001 report published earlier this year by the Hong Kong Journalists Association is critical of Hong Kong's media organizations and the government's interference.

"Certain subjects are emerging as 'no-go' areas for some media outlets, and journalists - sometimes quick to pick up what their editors want - will simply never suggest articles on these subjects," the report says.

No-go areas include Taiwanese, Tibetan and Xinjiang independence movements, political and religious dissidence, and Hong Kong business concerns and leadership struggles on mainland China.

"There is still a strong perception of news that is too sensitive or controversial that might antagonize Chinese leadership and [the journalists] become more cautious," says Chris Yeung, political editor of the South China Morning Post, the largest English-language newspaper in Hong Kong.

The report also says the government helps determine what is covered by "courting editors and doing deals."

By most accounts Hong Kong has dynamic media - 16 daily newspapers, four commercial television stations and two commercial radio stations - that function with no direct government control. …

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