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The Self-Censorship Myth
By Liu Kin-ming
Liu Kin-ming has been a vocal critic of Beijing's influence on Hong King journalists. (Photo by James Leynse) I am very happy to announce that self-censorship, a phenomenon that has been disturbing the journalistic circle in Hong Kong for many years, is dead. As a matter of fact, it never existed.
Press Freedom Under the Dragon
Can Hong Kong's Media Still Breathe Fire?

It did not take long for the Hong Kong Journalists Association to serve notice on Executive Secretary Tung Chee-hwa that it would be watching his office closely. On July 10, just days after the handover of Hong Kong to China by the British, the HKJA sent Tung a letter criticizing perceived "favorable treatment" given to official Chinese state news agencies in coverage of the handover.

The Case of Jimmy Lai: Hong Kong's Press Freedom Canary?

Those looking to take the measure of China's attitude toward Hong Kong's outspoken press may not need to wait for macroeconomic changes. Beijing has already expressed its distaste for Hong Kong's independent journalism in the case of media magnate Jimmy Lai. The flamboyant millionaire has built a media empire in a very short time by combining investigative reporting with the flash of tabloid journalism and a reputation for no-holds-barred criticism of China.

The Self-Censorship Myth

I am very happy to announce that self-censorship, a phenomenon that has been disturbing the journalistic circle in Hong Kong for many years, is dead. As a matter of fact, it never existed.
Let's be realistic. We should stop calling the sickness "self-censorship" and name it what it really is‹censorship.
Front-line journalists seldom censor themselves. Their stories are usually killed by their superiors‹plain old censorship. Chief editors, senior managers, and publishers do the dirty work for the government by watering down criticism or spiking offensive stories.

A Hong Kong Newspaper Softens Its Voice
Like Many Others in Colony, Ming Pao Hews Closer to Beijing's Line

For years, this city's most influential newspaper was a thorn in the Chinese government's side. Ming Pao broke news about crackdowns on dissidents, offered up juicy accounts of China's political power struggles, and earned the official label "hostile" for its detailed coverage of democracy protests in 1989.
So, now that China is preparing to take over Hong Kong, what is Ming Pao doing? Retreating. Staff opinion columns, once fiery, now often support China's line. Political news about China comes from official sources. When China was promoting shipping tycoon Tung Chee-Hwa to lead Hong Kong after July, Ming Pao devoted a full page to him for five days, with headlines like "Tung Impresses One Most by His Character."

China's Journalists: Breaking Free

It was at the end of my year teaching journalism as a Fulbright lecturer at Fudan University in Shanghai, and one of my best students was talking about his future. "I don't want to go into journalism," he said. "It's too depressing. You can't be a real journalist."
I had been in China for almost a year teaching American-style reporting and writing techniques to a group of graduates and undergraduates but I had never really questioned: Why do smart, savvy Chinese students opt to go into journalism in a country that believes the role of the media is to promote the goals and actions of the Communist Party and the state?

Knight Errant of Hong Kong's Press
Web Site Chronicles Transition

When Australian journalist Alan Knight started thinking about the impending changes in Hong Kong, he saw a job to be done documenting the attitudes of local and foreign journalists in the soon-to-be former colony. Knight moved to Hong Kong in early 1997 and began producing Dateline: Hong Kong, a Web site devoted to press and freedom-of-information issues arising out of the handover.
Knight has collected the spectrum of opinion on the state of the press in Hong Kong and its prospects for the future, ranging from press freedom activists allied with the Hong Kong Journalists Association to pro-Beijing editors. And he has posted interviews with many of the better-known local editors and journalists as well as several senior foreign correspondents. The site also contains transcripts of speeches and documents such as Hong Kong's Basic Law and mainland China's press restrictions.

From the Executive Director
The Tail of the Dragon

Two intrepid Chinese women‹one a naturalized American working as a reporter in New York, the other a former Beijing business writer now serving a six-year sentence in a Chinese jail‹have helped define what is at stake for East Asia and the world now that the Hong Kong press is under the formal sway of the People's Republic of China.
On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, the imprisoned Chinese reporter, Gao Yu, was presented a $25,000 press freedom award in absentia by UNESCO Director General Fernando Mayor. Beijing reacted with furor, calling Gao Yu "a criminal" and threatening to close UNESCO's China office or quit the U.N. agency altogether.

Attacks on the Press in China and Hong Kong: 1996 and 1997

China

Chen Fang BOOK BANNING
Aug. 21, 1997
The Communist Party's propaganda department, the Culture Ministry, and the Press and Publications Administration banned Chen Fang's 1997 book, Wrath of Heaven: A Mayor's Severe Crime, for posing a threat to Chinese leadership with its coverage of government corruption. Though a novel, the book describes the infamous 1995 corruption scandal involving the former mayor of Beijing, Chen Xitong, and Wang Baosen, deceased deputy mayor.

A Hong Kong Newspaper Softens Its Voice
Like Many Others in Colony, Ming Pao Hews Closer to Beijing's Line
By Joseph Kahn

For years, this city's most influential newspaper was a thorn in the Chinese government's side. Ming Pao broke news about crackdowns on dissidents, offered up juicy accounts of China's political power struggles, and earned the official label "hostile" for its detailed coverage of democracy protests in 1989.