In May 2022, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong announced that they would be cancelling this year's Human Right Press Awards, citing legal risks. The decision marked another worrying step in the downfall of Hong Kong as a safe and open place for journalists.
In just 25 years since the Hong Kong Handover, the state of media freedom in Hong Kong has been almost completely dismantled. In 2002 Hong Kong was ranked 18th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, however the most recent index has seen the country ranking plunge to 148th - a testament to the dismantling of the media landscape.
From financial coercion to outright censorship, from police violence against reporters to police raids of newsrooms, from draconian legislation leading to the prosecution and imprisonment of journalists and the closure of publications to the weaponisation of visas for foreign correspondents, Hong Kong's media freedoms have been rapidly and dramatically dismantled.
A quarter of a century after the Handover, a panel of accomplished journalists and experts from Hong Kong Watch and Reporters Without Borders will attempt to answer a simple question: what has caused the decline in press freedom in Hong Kong?
On display at the event will also be an exhibition from exemplary photojournalist, James Wendlinger, who will showcase a private collection of images designed to reflect the changing media landscape in Hong Kong.
Nathan Law is a young Hong Kong activist, currently in exile and based in London. Due to the risk imposed by the draconian National Security Law, Nathan left Hong Kong and continues to speak up for Hong Kong people on the international level.
Azzurra Moores is a human rights and press freedom advocate, working as the UK Campaigns Officer for Reporters Without Borders, known internationally as Reporters sans Frontières (RSF). Prior to joining RSF, she was the Research and Advocacy Officer for the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, founded after the assasintation of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Benedict Rogers is the co-founder and Chief Executive of Hong Kong Watch. He lived in Hong Kong for the first five years after the handover, from 1997-2002, where he worked as a journalist and was an active member of the Foreign Correspondents Club. In 2017 he was denied entry to Hong Kong on the orders of Beijing, and in 2022, despite being based in London, he was threatened by the Hong Kong Police Force with imprisonment for violating Hong Kong’s National Security Law. He is the author of six books and his latest book, The China Nexus: Thirty Years In and Around the Chinese Communist Party’s Tyranny, will be published in October. He is also the author of Hong Kong Watch’s new report, In the Firing Line: The Crackdown on Media Freedom in Hong Kong, and a regular contributor to national and international media, including The Spectator, The Tablet, The Wall Street Journal and from 2020-21 he wrote a weekly column in Hong Kong’s Apple Daily. He is also an advisor to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), the Stop Uyghur Genocide Campaign and several other charities.
Stephen Vines is a distinguished journalist and broadcaster who lived and worked in Hong Kong for 35 years. A presenter on Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), he has also worked as a correspondent for The Observer, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and the BBC. He was the founding editor of The Eastern Express and publisher of Spike, and was involved in the start-up of the Hong Kong Free Press. A former President of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong, he is the author of six books, including Defying the Dragon: Hong Kong and the World’s Largest Dictatorship. He moved back to the UK in August 2021.