Helping hand from the north offered to HK journalists on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 January, 2011, 12:00am

Beijing's chief official overseeing Hong Kong affairs, Wang Guangya, yesterday promised to give more support to the city's journalists reporting on the mainland.

In an hour-long meeting in Beijing, Wang told senior Hong Kong media executives that he would 'treat them as teachers' and praised the media for playing an important role in society.

'Somebody once told me that Jiang Enzhu [the former director of the central government's liaison office] described Hong Kong as a difficult book to read. So I must work very hard.' he said.

His comments raised hopes that the new director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office wants to foster a cordial relationship with Hong Kong's media and bring an air of openness to his office.

Wang, a seasoned diplomat, was known as being media-savvy during his years as China's top representative to the UN. Since taking up his new job, he has met the city's journalists on three scheduled occasions and each time has tried to befriend the media.

Yesterday's meeting was his first formal talk with senior Hong Kong media representatives, who expressed concerns about journalists being harassed when reporting on the mainland.

In recent years, Hong Kong journalists on the mainland regularly found themselves roughly handled by police or local authorities when covering sensitive news stories concerning riots or dissident activities.

May Chan Suk-mei, the news and public affairs director of Commercial Radio Hong Kong, who headed the delegation, said they also told Wang that they hoped for a better flow of information on the mainland - referring to the regular blocking of Hong Kong news media websites. Wang promised he would look into the matter. with his colleagues. He extended an olive branch to the city's press and said he understood the importance of the media.

'I know the media plays a big role in Hong Kong,' he said. 'All of you care passionately about current affairs. No matter if the news is about the world, the mainland or Hong Kong, you all have deep insight.'

But while he understood Hong Kong was a diversified society, Wang hoped the media could 'objectively analyse things, so the city's residents could understand the mainland better'.

He pledged to offer more help to Hong Kong journalists reporting on the mainland - something he said his office had been doing since the Sino-British negotiations in the early 1980s.