Beijing opens door to SAR media
In a move to forge closer relations between Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland, the central Government has opened the doors to media from the two Special Administrative Regions by allowing them to set up news-gathering bureaus on the mainland.
Shao Huaze, chairman of the All-China Journalists' Association, said last night the long-awaited move would give local media the same access on the mainland as overseas news organisations.
The move would facilitate the two regions' understanding of social, political and economic developments on the mainland, Mr Shao said.
He said news organisations registered in Hong Kong and Macau should apply to set up bureaus through the central Government Liaison Office.
Once the applications were approved by the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the organisations should register with the All-China Journalists' Association, Mr Shao said.
He said the authorities had already made the necessary preparations and would begin to accept applications from Hong Kong and Macau news organisations after the National Day holidays.
Hong Kong media executives welcomed the announcement.
Lo Wing-hung, chief executive officer and publisher of the Sing Tao newspaper group, said: 'The move is timely as China looks set to join the World Trade Organisation towards the end of this year and is poised to embark upon further economic liberalisation.
'It is good news and this will give Hong Kong journalists more space and freedom to report and write about the mainland.'
Paul Cheung, chief editor of Ming Pao Newspapers Limited, said his newspaper had been expecting the development for some time and had been preparing for it.
Both Mr Lo and Mr Cheung said they would study the regulations and review the costs carefully before deciding whether to apply for approval to set up mainland bureaus.
Until now, Hong Kong and Macau-based media have not been allowed to station full-time correspondents on the mainland, except for a handful of newspapers, including the South China Morning Post. Only selected media groups from other countries are allowed to representation on the mainland.
Mainland officials said Hong Kong and Macau media groups could initially set up bureaus in Beijing only, and the correspondents should be Hong Kong or Macau residents.
The correspondents will be able to travel to other parts of the country from Beijing to report and gather news after getting approval from the authorities. Hong Kong's media started lobbying for the right to open news bureaus on the mainland after the 1997 handover.