Overseas Press Club of America Protests Growing Threats to Media Freedom in China and Hong Kong

YORK, New York –Sept. 16, 2014– For more than 75 years, Overseas Press Club
members have reported news from China and Hong Kong, advancing the world’s
understanding of China.

within the past year, conditions for reporting in China have deteriorated
sharply with threats, intimidation, censorship, and denials of work
visas.  International news media and the Chinese press are under pressure
not seen since 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and
military crackdown.  That reality was underscored during a reunion of some
70 current and former China and Hong Kong correspondents held in New York on
Sept. 12, and by the most recent position paper of the Foreign Correspondents
Club of China. 

China plays a larger role in global politics and economics, the country has
failed to maintain its commitment to free flows of information. Instead,
China’s growing power on the world stage has led to attacks, bullying of
international news organizations, and reprisals against Chinese reporters.
 Chinese writers and journalists have been arrested and given harsh
sentences; international reporters have been banned from covering some
geographic areas; Chinese news assistants to Western correspondents have been
threatened; websites with critical reporting have been blocked; and social
media reporting has been suppressed. 

roadblocks to coverage do damage to China and its 1.3 billion citizens, feeding
the perception that China is not politically and economically stable and is not
willing to follow international norms. 

the past, China’s leaders have recognized the value of free flows of
information: China’s constitution protects freedom of speech and of the press.
In the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the government committed itself to
allowing expanded and unfettered reporting by Western news organizations.

for decades, Hong Kong has been an oasis of free speech and a robust media—both
among local media and journalists from around the world who have been based
there. This status is now at risk.  

alarming events in Hong Kong demand urgent focus. In 1984, China signed an
international treaty, the Joint Declaration, expressly guaranteeing press
freedom in Hong Kong and the continued application of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  This treaty is registered at the
United Nations. 

escalation of violent attacks on journalists and demands from China’s Central
Liaison Office for censorship and to cease advertising in independent media are
causes for great concern. If Hong Kong loses its free flow of information, the
territory will quickly lose its status as a global financial center.

freedom is most likely to advance over time in China if it is preserved today
in Hong Kong.  

urge Chinese leaders to reverse course and enforce their own laws requiring
free speech and press freedom. China’s future progress and its engagement with
the world depend on it. 

Click below for a PDF copy of this letter.