According to the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), at least 10 journalists working for local and international organizations have had their applications to cover the events rejected for “security reasons”.
“With the media unable to send reporters to the field, the HKJA expresses its deepest regrets over the inflexibility of the reporting arrangements made by the authorities for such an important event,” the news group said on Tuesday.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post were among the outlets whose reporters were barred from covering the ceremonies, according to the HKJA.
CNN has reached out to media companies for comment. A Hong Kong government spokesperson said authorities were “balancing as much as possible between the need for media work and security requirements”.
Reuters reported that two of its reporters were barred from covering the handover ceremony and the inauguration of new Hong Kong chief executive John Lee. He quoted a Reuters spokeswoman as saying the news agency was seeking further information on the matter.
CNN’s bid to attend the events was also rejected.
“The government told CNN that police denied the request but declined to provide details,” a company spokesperson said. “CNN is disappointed not to attend official events but will continue to report on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit.”
The spokesperson said the Hong Kong government told CNN that “it would not comment on the outcome of the accreditation of organizations and individuals.”
Journalists whose candidacy was denied would not be able to cover the national flag-raising ceremony and the swearing-in of Lee, the city’s new leader and former security chief.
The government’s Department of Information Services issued invitations to news outlets on June 16, allowing only one reporter per outlet to cover each event.
Each media representative was required to carry out daily PCR tests from June 26 – before official approval or rejections were issued on June 28 – and self-quarantine at the hotel on June 29 as part of the measures of protection. coronavirus prevention.
“Serious deviation” from the freedom of the press
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong said on Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” by reports that accreditation had been denied.
“In the past, similar official events have been open for media registration without invitation or verification,” the FCC said in a statement Wednesday.
“The FCCHK views these restrictions – applied without detailed explanation – as a serious departure from this stated commitment to press freedom,” he said.
Beijing imposed a national security law on the city following anti-government protests in 2019. Since then, critics have alleged that some of the freedoms China promised to protect in handover 25 years ago have been restricted.
Hong Kong the government rejects suggestions that freedom of the press has been undermined, but the future of independent local journalism looks bleak. Although there are still major international media – including CNN and Bloomberg – operating large newsrooms in the city, there are few significant local independent media outlets left.
Some of the city’s biggest pro-democracy outlets have been taken down after huge government pressure, a series of arrests and police raids on their newsrooms.
— CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to this report.