Media watchers believe Hong Kong's journalists and news media practise 'a degree of self-censorship', particularly in China coverage, according to the State Department report. The report devotes extensive coverage to free speech and press issues, but avoids serious criticism of the Hong Kong authorities' record on the media. 'Groups that follow press freedom in Hong Kong assert that media self-censorship continues and that certain subjects are emerging as 'no go' areas for some media outlets,' the report states, adding, however, that regular coverage of 'supposedly taboo or sensitive' topics continues. 'The pressure to self-censor purportedly comes from the belief by some publishers and editors that advertising revenues or their business interests in China could suffer if they were seen to be too antagonistic to China or to powerful local interests,' the report says. While describing the press as diverse and free, it highlights several developments, including the cutting of political coverage by the Hong Kong iMail, pressure from some quarters on RTHK and ongoing concerns over the South China Morning Post, including the departure of its former China editor, Willy Wo-Lap Lam, in November 2000. His 'sudden departure', it said, 'continued to be described by human rights organisations as an example of media self-censorhip related to a media owner's commercial interests in China.' 'The paper continued to cover internal [Chinese] politics, but much less often than during Lam's tenure,' it claimed. Mak Yin-ting, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, said it was difficult to say media owners all toed the line of Beijing, but they would like to maintain a good relationship with it. She admitted the room for diversity has been shrinking. 'Society was more pluralistic in the 80s and early 90s,' she said. A government spokesman said press freedom is well respected in Hong Kong. 'The media has been rigorously and relentlessly exercising its role as a watchdog on the Government,' he said.