U.S. Department of State
Media Freedom Coalition Statement on the Second Anniversary of the Closure of Stand News and Media Freedom in Hong Kong
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON
DECEMBER 29, 2023
The text of the following statement was signed by the Governments of Australia, Austria, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC) remain deeply concerned at the Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities’ continued attacks on freedom of the press and their suppression of independent local media in Hong Kong.
Local media have intensified self-censorship since the imposition of the National Security Law in June 2020. Prosecutions of media workers in connection with sedition legislation have increased. Use of these laws to suppress journalism undermines Hong Kong’s autonomy and the rights and freedoms of the people in Hong Kong as promised in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and guaranteed in the Basic Law.
The Hong Kong authorities’ prolonged prosecutions of journalists like the Stand News team and publishers such as Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai creates a chilling effect on others in the press and media. They come against the backdrop of loss of editorial independence, the barring of journalists seeking to cover government press briefings and the removal of material from public broadcasting archives.
Freedom of the press has been central to Hong Kong’s success for many years. Curtailing the space for free expression of alternative views weakens vital checks and balances on executive power. The free flow and exchange of opinions and information is vital to Hong Kong’s people, business and international reputation.
We urge the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to abide by their international human rights commitments and legal obligations and to preserve Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and respect for universal rights and freedoms.
The member countries of the MFC will always defend media freedom and freedom of expression. The member countries of the MFC will continue to stand up for those who are targeted simply for exercising their human rights.