Poll Shows Nearly Half Of Hong Kong Journalists Want Out

FCC offices in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, a former British colony and current Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Communist China was originally guaranteed half a century of many of the legacies of British colonialism, such as a free press, a largely unfettered free-market economy, and personal autonomy for their residents after the Crown Colony’s handover from the British to the CCP in 1997. Unfortunately, these guarantees appear to have been much more short-lived than what was expected and stipulated. In recent months, this souring sentiment has been felt most acutely amongst the commentary class of Hong Kong, with many considering the prospect of voting with their feet.

According to The Epoch Times, the National Security law that was recently imposed by Beijing has created a journalistic climate that has “deteriorated significantly”, to the point that 46 percent of respondents in a recent survey conducted by the Foreign Correspondent’s Club (FCC) have concrete plans to leave the city or at least seriously considered it thus far.

Indeed, nearly five out of every six of the journalists that were polled believe that the informational climate that their very careers are based on has “changed for the worse”, particularly since the latest round of grip-tightening by Beijing last June.

The latest security law, in true Communist Chinese fashion, uses unusually high-context vagary in its stipulations with regards to what it defines as speech or acts it deems as subversive, separatist, or otherwise going against the CCP. This ambiguity has allowed the CCP to insist on the arrest of over a hundred dissidents, journalists, and students that were deemed to be engaging in actions that fit the CCP’s rather flexible definition of troublemakers.

“The rapidly deteriorating political environment in Hong Kong has made me consider cutting short my stay in the city,” a surveyee lamented to the FCC. “While we’re not planning an imminent departure by any means, myself and several others I know are reconsidering previous plans to stay in Hong Kong over a longer time frame, given the city we arrived in was very different than the city we currently live in.”

Hong Kong, at least officially at this point, enjoyed a tremendous degree of political autonomy outside defense policy and foreign relations as part of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which was written up and agreed to in light of the concerns of Hong Kongers at the time that being handed over to Beijing would spell an immediate end of the very principles and foundations that made Hong Kong a journalistic haven in the Far East, in addition to being one of the first few economic miracles of the region.

Nowadays, over 56 percent of journalists surveyed admitted to self-censorship or purposely glossing over an important topic as a result of fear of reprisal from Beijing should they properly speak their minds.

“These results clearly show that assurances that Hong Kong still enjoys press freedom, guaranteed under the Basic Law, are not enough,” FCC President Keith Richburg iterated. “More steps need to be taken to restore confidence among journalists and to make sure Hong Kong maintains its decades-long reputation as a welcoming place for the international media.”