Hong Kong’s new security law delivers another body blow to freedom of speech

Press statement 19 March 2024

Hong Kong Media Overseas (HKMO) is highly concerned over the implications of the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law which adds to the provisions of the already draconian National Security Law imposed on Hong Kong in 2021.

This legislation has the potential to create an even greater chilling effect on both local and overseas media organizations and journalists in Hong Kong, further hindering press freedom and freedom of expression. There is also a risk that more foreign media outlets will withdraw from Hong Kong.

The impact of this wide ranging and imprecise legislation is evident. It encompasses provisions related to sedition offenses, including the illegal disclosure of state secrets, which covers a wide range of economic and social development issues.

This legislation creates a very low threshold for criminalizing statements claimed to be false or misleading. Even legitimate criticism based on objective facts could fall within this category. While Article 23 does not explicitly target the media, its overall effect is to criminalize speech. Consequently, media outlets that continue to voice dissenting opinions will face significant risks.

Additionally, HKMO is concerned about the expanded definition of “foreign forces” in the legislation, which now includes “international organizations.” The broad and

intentionally vague definition raises questions and may cause apprehension among foreign businesses and non- governmental organizations, potentially further damaging Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center.

Joseph Ngan, HKMO’s Chairman said: ‘The situation before the passage of this law was quite bad enough. Hong Kong’s tolerance of free speech has now sunk to a terrifying low’.

For further enquries: info@aohkmp.org.uk 

Editors note:

The HKMO is an international association of journalists previously based in Hong Kong who are campaigning for the restoration of media freedom and provides a network of mutual support for the exiled media community.