China's legislative body, the National People's Congress is pushing Hong Kong’s controversial national security law targeting “separatism, subversion of state power, terrorism and interference.” Press freedom organisations analysis of the law suggest it will single-out sensitive issues such as Xinjiang and Tibet’s independence and Taiwan’s membership in the World Health Organisation, opening the media up to prosecution. The law could target other aspects of a journalist’s job, including collecting information and reporting on national security related crimes
In response to concerns for Hong Kong’s press freedom amid the national security law, HKJA conducted a survey amongst its members with results indicating 98% of respondents disagreed with the law and 87% of respondents believe it will seriously affect Hong Kong’s press freedom. A further 137 respondents (91%) expressed concern for their safety if the national security law passed. Only one journalist who responded to the survey believed self-censorship would not be an issue if the national security law passed.
HKJA said: “Freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of publication is the cornerstone of the success of Hong Kong as an international city. They are under protection in the Basic Law. The enactment of Hong Kong national security law is like having a knife hanging over the head of Hong Kong people. It will pose a threat, both in substantive and psychological terms, to journalists, worsening the problem of self-censorship and second-guessing of political bottom-line. The room of freedom will be further shrunk. Ultimately, the status of Hong Kong as an international financial city will be shaken.”
The IFJ said: “The undeniably negative response to the National Security Law from journalists is a clear indication Hong Kong’s press freedom, freedom of expression and democratic institutions are at risk of failing. After a year of police brutality against journalists covering Hong Kong’s public order events, trust in police and the government has significantly declined alongside Hong Kong’s democracy. The IFJ calls on the Hong Kong government to allow journalists to carry out their job uninterrupted, without censorship or fear of retribution.”