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PoliticsHong Kong

Hong Kong arrests journalists' union leader Ronson Chan

September 7, 2022

Chan was arrested after allegedly refusing to show his ID to a police officer. Hong Kong has plummeted in press freedom rankings in recent years as independent journalism has come under fire from Chinese censors.

Ronson Chan
Chan's arrest came shortly before he was due to the leave the country for a six-month fellowship in the UKImage: May Tes/ZUMA Wire/IMAGO

Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), was arrested on Wednesday, accused of obstructing police and disorderly conduct. 

Chan's employer, Channel C, said the veteran reporter and another employee had gone to the city's Mong Kok district to report on a meeting of public housing apartment owners. They allegedly refused to show ID to police officers, who claimed they were "acting suspiciously."

Chan was set to leave Hong Kong at the end of the month for the six-month Reuters Institute fellowship program at Oxford Universtiry.

Authorities have used a national security law and colonial-era sedition charges to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong after democracy protests three years ago. Local media deemed critical of the government have faced a surge of police investigations, causing the city to plummet down global press freedom rankings.

Hong Kong's media under pressure

Dwindling press freedom

Local tabloid Apple Daily and online news platform StandNews, the latter of which Chan used to work for, were forced to close last year after executives were charged with national security violations, leaving hundreds of journalists out of work.

Hong Kong's contentious new national security laws were pushed through via Beijing in 2020 after failing to clear the city's own legislature, and prompted major protests.

Like many now-banned civil society groups and pro-democracy unions, both Chan and the HKJA have faced repeated criticism from media outlets that answer to Beijing's Liaison Office in the city. 

Following such coverage, Hong Kong journalists have come to expect visits from the police.

When Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its annual press freedom ranking in May, Hong Kong had plunged 68 places to 148th in the world. In RSF's first report in 2002, Hong Kong had some of the freest media in Asia and ranked 18th worldwide.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong halted handing out Asia's largest annual human right press awards earlier this year, citing risks posed by the national security law to any prospective winner.

es/msh (AP, AFP)

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