Hong Kong’s decision to deny Buckley’s visa last week follows China’s controversial new security law imposed on Hong Kong. In response, The New York Timesannounced on July 14 that it is moving a third of its Hong Kong based staff to Seoul, South Korea. In a memo, Times editors and executives wrote,“China’s sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong has created a lot of uncertainty about what the new rules will mean to our operation and our journalism. We feel it is prudent to make contingency plans and begin to diversify our editing staff around the region.”
Before the Hong Kong security law was enacted, the specifics of the law were kept secret to the public including Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam. The new law criminalises “separatism, subversion of state power, terrorism and interference” and has been used to limit dissenting opinions. Countries around the world have responded to China’s National Security Law offering aid to Hong Kongers fleeing persecution.
In May, China expelled Buckley by refusing to renew his visa, making him the 19th foreign correspondent expelled from the country in the last year. Despite Buckley’s removal, China stated he would be allowed to return in the future.
Chris Buckley has been a correspondent based in China for the past 24 years and has covered an extensive range of news relating to human rights, transparency and freedom of speech.
The IFJ said: “Chris Buckley’s rejected visa application and the implementation of the National Security Law sends a stark warning for press freedom in Hong Kong and China, the repercussions of which will be felt across the world as access to information is limited. The IFJ urges the Hong Kong administration to ensure the approval of Chris Buckley’s work visa.”