The list of independent media outlets in Hong Kong continues to shrink at an alarming rate, reflecting the irremediable authoritarian course of the territory. The portal ‘Citizen News’ has closed this morning, just five days after ‘Stand News’ did the same as a result of government harassment.
“Unfortunately, the rapid changes in society and the worsening conditions for the media make us unable to achieve our goals without fear. Faced with this crisis, the first thing is to make sure that everyone on board is safe ”, announced the publication through an official statement shared yesterday Monday. The text also detailed that the closure would take effect as of Tuesday.
The history of ‘Citizen News’ dates back to 2017, when it was founded by ten veteran journalists, alarmed already then at the attempts of the Chinese Communist Party to erode the rights and freedoms prevailing in the former British colony. Its business model was based on donations from its users and on social media it was defined as a portal “without party affiliation, which aspires to promote Hong Kong’s core values such as freedom, openness, diversity and inclusion.”
Values of another time
Values that belong to an earlier time, as shown by the cut in freedom of the press. “As editor-in-chief, I am no longer able to decide whether a piece of information, an investigation or a quote, if published, will be against the law in this changing environment,” lamented Daisy Li, editor of ‘Citizen News’.
His complaint referred to the fate of seven senior officials of the newspaper ‘Stand News’, detained five days ago for “printing or distributing seditious materials”, an offense whose penalty ranges between two years in prison and a fine of 5,000 Hong Kong dollars (568 euros). The authorities also registered the newsroom and froze the media’s assets, leading to its liquidation.
The Chief Secretary of the Administration, John Lee Ka-chiu, second political authority of the local Executive, described the newspaper as a “rotten apple” for “abusing its position, putting on the label of journalist to use the news as a tool to pursue interests own ‘. “They are the ones who damage the freedom of the press,” he added.
This campaign traces the pattern of the consummate one against ‘Apple Daily’ this summer. The leading newspaper of the territory it also had to close as a result of government persecution, which blocked his assets and detained his top management. Among them was its founder, Jimmy Lai, one of the best-known pro-democracy figures. who faces several criminal cases for which he has already accumulated more than 3 years in prison.
Other recent milestones add to these actions, such as the manipulation of the elections postponed for a year to prevent the participation of the opposition and the censorship of the past eliminating all mention of Tiananmen. All of them portray a political process that aspires to iron out the differences between the Chinese territory and Hong Kong, where journalism represents a less and less poignant rejon.