Press freedom in Hong Kong

Why it’s wrong to compare Hong Kong and UK on free speech and Victor Mallet visa row

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 7:01pm

Philip Yeung’s attempts to excuse the government for peremptorily ending Victor Mallet’s visa – a move as damaging to our reputation as to the principle of free speech – by comparing Hong Kong to Britain. But he gets his facts wrong (“Why Hong Kong didn’t need to evict journalist Victor Mallet,” October 8).

He asks: “… what if an organisation of Britain-based Chinese correspondents had given a public platform to the leader of an illegal separatist party that advocates Northern Ireland’s breakaway from Britain? The Chinese correspondents … would risk being declared persona non grata by the British government. Except the situation in Greater China is 10 times more vexed than in present-day Northern Ireland.”

Mr Yeung must know separatist parties are not illegal in Britain – there are several of them, and they get elected to Parliament. He should also realise foreign journalists, Chinese or not, may well offer platforms to British separatists – it happens every time CNN or Al Jazeera interviews Nicola Sturgeon. Britain does not declare a journalist persona non grata for elucidating policies of British politicians.

Watch: Carrie Lam responds to journalist’s visa denial

Think carefully about the British-Irish issue. The Irish Republican Army was a terrorist or nationalist organisation, represented in the political field by Sinn Fein. The IRA was banned, but Sinn Fein was not.

The British-Irish issue is very sensitive, as it has in living memory been associated with terrorism, including an attack on a prime minister and her ministers that killed several. Things are still very sensitive. Nothing quite like that has happened in China, since officials were persecuted, committed suicide or died during the factional violence of the Cultural Revolution.

Mr Yeung finishes by reminding us that illegal acts must have consequences, but nothing Victor Mallet did was illegal.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels