Britain 'Seriously Concerned' Over Hong Kong Press Freedom

Britain 'Seriously Concerned' Over Hong Kong Press Freedom

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A British government report on Hong Kong expresses “serious concerns” about press freedom and self-censorship in its former colony and about reports that leading British banks had pulled advertising from a local pro-democracy newspaper.

The six-monthly report, presented by Foreign Secretary William Hague to parliament on Thursday, is more explicit than London’s recent summaries, reflecting rising tensions over democratic reform in the Asian financial hub.

“We believe that freedom of expression, including of the press, has played an important part in Hong Kong’s success,” the report, made available by the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, said.

“As such we take seriously concerns about press freedom, including fears about self-censorship,” it adds, saying London would monitor the situation closely and noting Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying’s “clear statements on press freedom”.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association said in a report press freedom in Hong Kong had entered its darkest period in decades and has set up a group to investigate complaints of media self-censorship amid fears that Beijing is tightening its grip.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang that the 17 years since Hong Kong returned to China had shown the success of the “one country, two systems” autonomous system of government.

“British people should have a deep understanding and knowledge of how Hong Kong was 17 years ago and how it is now,” he told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

But as Hong Kong is part of China no country had the right to interfere in its internal affairs, he added.

Read more at Reuters