Hong Kong authorities, citing “security reasons”, have banned more than 10 journalists from covering events and ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the region’s return to China this week, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association. Hong Kong.
The journalists represent at least seven outlets, including international news agencies Reuters and Agence France-Presse as well as others from Hong Kong, the association said in a statement posted online late Tuesday.
“Authorities have held ad hoc and close interviews at this important stage and offered vague grounds for denial, seriously undermining press freedom in Hong Kong,” the statement said.
Relevant Hong Kong media include the English-language South China Morning Post and Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao as well as online media HK01, the association said.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) said in a report that one of its photographers was rejected, without giving a reason.
Reuters, Ming Pao and HK01 did not immediately comment. A spokesperson for the SCMP declined to comment, as did Agence France-Presse.
Relevant media organizations have been asked to send additional journalists to cover the event, but replacements must also meet quarantine and testing requirements, according to the press association statement.
Journalists covering the events must undergo daily Covid-19 nucleic acid tests from last Sunday and must stay in a quarantine hotel from Wednesday.
The Department of News Services, which issued the first invitations to media to register to cover the event, declined to provide information on the number of accredited journalists and also did not comment on a report by the SCMP. that one of his own photographers had been kicked out of the event.
“The government is balancing as much as possible between the need for media work and security requirements,” the Department of Information Services said in a statement. “We will not comment on the outcome of the accreditation of organizations and individuals.”
The denials came as Hong Kong police confirmed Chinese President Xi Jinping would visit the city on the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.
Xi’s visit will be his first trip outside mainland China since the coronavirus pandemic took hold about two and a half years ago. Police announced a series of security measures, including road closures and a no-fly zone.