Hong Kong has no less speech freedom without Mallet

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/7 21:38:39

Hong Kong has refused to renew the work visa for Victor Mallet, Asia news editor of the Financial Times. Overseas media outlets connected the refusal with Mallet's position as vice president of Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) which hosted a speech by separatist Andy Chan Ho-tin in August, and warned of a chilling effect on freedom of speech.

If Mallet was indeed denied a visa renewal because he hosted Chan's speech at the FCC against Hong Kong authorities, that has no relationship to his work reporting in the city. It's clear that hosting Chan demonstrates a sense of political provocation that goes far beyond the scope of freedom of speech.

The Hong Kong government has the power to reject Mallet's visa renewal without explanation. Why doesn't Mallet think about what he has done different from other foreign journalists?

Accusing Hong Kong of mainlandization, which is nonsensical, is a way of fighting for some Western forces and Hong Kong extremists. The Western media have hardly criticized the US order that requires Chinese news organizations to register as foreign agents. This will hinder their professional work in the country. But the Western media think a visa renewal rejection for a UK editor symbolizes Hong Kong being under more pressure from the mainland. Western media are indeed sophisticated in applying double standards.

Hong Kong's political system, laws and freedom of speech are strictly protected by the Basic Law, but Hong Kong extremists and some external forces have attempted to sabotage them. They made the attempt not to protect the uniqueness of Hong Kong, but to shatter the "one country, two systems" framework and challenge the State's governance of Hong Kong.

What's happening over Hong Kong has nothing to do with freedom of speech. In the city, opposition has ample channels to voice their views. Since 1997, Hong Kong opposition has taken a more prominent position than ever before. Those who claim that Hong Kong is enjoying less freedom have no statistics to support their claim.

Putting a vile label of mainlandization on Hong Kong can readily cater to Western media and be used as a pretext for a variety of issues. But Hong Kong has kept its uniqueness and has clearly not been assimilated by the mainland.

Without Mallet, Hong Kong won't have any less freedom of speech. By contrast, Mallet's action damaged China's national security and undermined freedom of expression.

All countries and regions have things which they feel sensitive about and are unable to back down. These things must comply with local reality and serve people's actual interests. The West doesn't always have the final say. Hong Kong will get better without Mallet. The city's future doesn't need to be the concern of Mallet, the UK government or Western media.

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