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LCQ6: Protecting the rights of the Hong Kong journalists to conduct lawful reporting activities in the Mainland

     Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (January 12):


     At the Third Session of the Eleventh National People's Congress held in March 2010 when the Premier of the State Council presented the Report on the Work of the Government, he stated that the State would "create conditions for the people to criticise and oversee the government, let the news media fully play their oversight role, and exercise power openly".Yet, Hong Kong journalists, while covering news on the Mainland in recent years, have been obstructed and treated rudely on many occasions. Some Hong Kong television reporters, while covering news in Xinjiang, were assaulted, handcuffed and detained by law enforcement officers, and were even slanderously accused by the local information office of inciting disturbance and violating the rules on news coverage; another Hong Kong television reporter covering news in Sichuan was alleged by law enforcement officers of suspected possession of drugs and prohibited from going out. In December 2010, while covering news in Beijing on a case concerning a human rights activist on the Mainland, a Hong Kong reporter was even slapped and objects were hurled at a photographer. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) what actions the Government has taken to follow up the aforesaid incidents and other incidents concerning Hong Kong journalists being treated rudely, and the details of these follow-up actions;

(b) whether they have requested the mainland authorities to investigate the aforesaid incidents; if they have, whether they know the progress and expected completion date of the investigation, as well as whether the investigation outcome will be released; and

(c) whether they will convey to the mainland authorities the views of Members of this Council and some members of the public that it is the duty of the mainland authorities to protect the rights of the press in Hong Kong to conduct reporting activities on the Mainland, and whether they will urge the mainland authorities to ensure that Hong Kong journalists will not be treated rudely while conducting reporting activities?


Mr President,

     Given the increasingly close relationship between the Mainland and Hong Kong, the reporting activities of Hong Kong journalists in the Mainland have become more frequent. The three cases mentioned in the question concerning Hong Kong journalists covering news in Xinjiang, Sichuan and Beijing occurred in August 2009, September 2009 and December 2010 respectively. The HKSAR Government (the Government) has been very concerned about these cases and has followed up in an appropriate manner.

     After the case in Xinjiang, we reflected the concerns and views of the Hong Kong media to the Xinjiang Autonomous Region Government through the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council. When the Chief Executive met with the Minister of Public Security before the National Day in 2009, he expressed the Government's concern over the case. The Minister stated that he understood the Government's concern over the case, and reiterated the stance of the Central Government to protect the rights of the Hong Kong journalists to conduct lawful reporting activities in the Mainland. Regarding the case in Sichuan, the Government had communicated with the Sichuan Provincial Government on a number of occasions to reflect the views of the media and various organisations. Immediately after the case in Beijing, colleagues of the Government's Beijing Office had contacted the journalist concerned to gain an understanding of the situation and the needs of the journalist. In response to the request of individual organisations of the media industry, the Government had also reflected their views on the case to the Mainland authorities.

     The Mainland authorities have reiterated several times the stance that they would protect the rights of the media to conduct lawful reporting activities. Under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", the Government will endeavour to provide practical assistance to Hong Kong journalists covering news in the Mainland as necessary; on the part of the journalists, they would need to comply with the relevant Mainland laws and regulations when conducting reporting activities. The Government will continue to maintain close contact with the Mainland authorities to ensure the personal safety of Hong Kong journalists and provide them with assistance in conducting lawful reporting activities in the Mainland.

Ends/Wednesday, January 12, 2011