The ‘Yabuli Youth Forum 2018: Innovation Annual Meeting’ held in Hong Kong on June 22 and 23, imposed outlandish restrictions on media, invited to cover the meeting for two days. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) have condemned the moves by the organisers, the China Entrepreneurs Forum for the attempts to censor the media.
According to Ming Pao and Sing Pao Daily, the organisers of the event only granted access to the two-day meeting to invited media outlets, any other media were blocked. Media that was granted access were also required to sign conditional agreements before entry, which included five conditions: media must live broadcast the event, the media must amend, delete and post an apology if any speakers make inappropriate comments during the coverage, they must interview former chairman of the organisation, Liu Mingkang and the media are not allowed to republish staff comments from their social media accounts, including Weibo.
According to some reports, several Hong Kong media refused to sign the conditional agreements, noting that they violated press freedom. The HKJA and the Hong Kong News Executives’ Association were among groups which criticised the event’s attempts to control the media.
Chris Yeung, the chairperson of HKJA said that Hong Kong media does not accept any kind of censorship. He said that the organiser has the liberty to invite any media to enter, but the media’s concerns are valid, given the speakers. The speakers included, Leung Chun-yin , former Chief Executive of Hong Kong , Li Xiaojia, Chief Executive of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd.
The IFJ said: “The attempt to control and stifle the media by the organiser of the Innovation Annual Meeting raises questions about the content of the meeting, and what the group is working on that, they need to control the narrative. More concerning, is the attempts by the organiser to place the onus on the media to take responsibility for coverage of comments by speakers, which could be controversial. The media cannot be made responsible, particularly when live-broadcasting events; otherwise the media will cease covering events.
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