Hong Kong: Hong Kong government denies visa of The Economist correspondent

The Hong Kong government has refused to renew the employment visa of one of the Economist correspondents in the city without giving a reason, according to the magazine. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges the authorities to stop using denial of visas to target members of the foreign press.

A copy of the Economist magazine is pictured on a news stand. Credit: AFP/ JACK TAYLOR

Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief of the Economist, said in a statement on November 12 that the visa renewal application of the magazine’s correspondent, Wong Sue-lin, had been “declined” by the Hong Kong immigration authorities. 

“We regret their decision, which was given without explanation…. We urge the government of Hong Kong to maintain access for the foreign press, which is vital to the territory’s standing as an international city,” Beddoes said. 

Wong, an Australian passport holder who is currently not in Hong Kong, also said via Twitter: “Very sad I won’t be able to continue reporting from Hong Kong.” 

The visa denial for Wong, who previously worked with the Financial Times and Reuters, is not a one-off incident. Since Beijing imposed the comprehensive National Security Law on Hong Kong last June, the IFJ has documented a number of instances in which foreign journalists were denied work visas in the city. 

In August 2020, Hong Kong Free Press, a local English-language news outlet, said the authorities had denied the visa application of its editor Aaron Mc Nicholas, an Irish national, without giving a reason. Similarly, the New York Times’ correspondent Chris Buckley had his work visa rejected in Hong Kong in July 2020, just a few months after Beijing refused to renew his visa in China amid a tit-for-tat row between the United States and China. 

The Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong said in a statement on November 14, "We again call on the government to provide concrete assurances that applications for employment visas and visa extensions will be handled in a timely manner with clearly-stated requirements and procedures, and that the visa process for journalists will not be politicised or weaponised."

The IFJ said: “The Hong Kong government should stop using the visa process to prevent foreign correspondents accessing the city. The IFJ urges the authorities to ensure foreign journalists, like Wong, are able to continue reporting in Hong Kong.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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