Much has been said about the government’s refusal to renew the working visa of British journalist Victor Mallet, who is an editor of the Asian news desk of the Financial Times and also the first vice-president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) in Hong Kong.
It has sparked speculation that authorities took the move in retaliation for the FCC’s recent action of inviting Andy Chan Ho-tin, convenor of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), to give a speech at its luncheon event.
The visa denial has drawn the attention of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the US Consulate in Hong Kong and the European Union, all of which have voiced their concerns over Mallet’s treatment.
Over the years, Hong Kong has been known as a free city that welcomes journalists and news editors from all over the world.
And thanks to our city’s close ties with the international community, as well as the freedom of expression and information that is fully protected by our existing laws, many prominent international news media outlets have chosen Hong Kong as home to their regional headquarters in Asia.
Unfortunately, I believe the Mallet affair has set a very bad precedent, and sent a negative message to the rest of the world that Hong Kong has already given up its core values and is gradually deviating from the guiding principle of “high degree of autonomy” under the One Country, Two Systems.
That our government can deport foreign journalists on political grounds would inevitably raise doubts as to whether Hong Kong has degenerated into just another mainland city.
Since the 1997 handover, the One Country, Two Systems has experienced countless challenges and blows.
So in order to restore international confidence in our city, as well as in our “high degree of autonomy” under the One Country, Two Systems, I strongly urge the government to reconsider Mallet’s visa renewal application.
We need to prevent this episode from becoming the last nail in the coffin of Hong Kong.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 10
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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