Beijing blamed as Hong Kong's press freedom declines

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 3:49am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 4:50am

Hong Kong's press freedom has declined for three consecutive years as Beijing interferes with the city's media through its liaison office, according to an annual report by monitoring group Reporters Without Borders.

The France-based group's 2014 press freedom index ranked Hong Kong 61st worldwide, a position the local Journalists Association called "worrying".

This compared to 58th last year and 54th in 2012.

Mainland China was ranked 175th among the 180 countries and regions surveyed by the report.

Not only had Beijing failed to improve its treatment of outspoken dissident bloggers and journalists, it had also used "its influence over the media in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, compromising their independence", the group noted.

"China's growing economic weight is allowing it to extend its influence over the media in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, which had been largely spared political censorship until recently. Media independence is now in jeopardy in these three territories," it said.

"The Chinese Communist Party's growing subjugation of the Hong Kong executive and its pressure on the Hong Kong media through its liaison office is increasingly compromising media pluralism there," the report added.

The organisation provided no specific examples of incidents in Hong Kong that prompted it to reach this conclusion.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association commented: "In 2002 when [the index] was first released, Hong Kong was ranked 18th, the top in Asia. Twelve years on, the situation is increasingly worrying."

The index is based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure.