Another pro-democracy news publication in Hong Kong has announced it will close “with a heavy heart” amid a crackdown on dissent as a group of lawmakers loyal to China’s Communist Party were sworn in to the local legislature on Monday.
The founders of Citizen News said the online news outlet would cease publishing on Tuesday, citing the closure last week of Stand News following a raid on its newsroom by 200 police and the arrests of seven people accused of publishing seditious materials.
“The decision was made within a short period of time. The trigger point was the fate of Stand News,” Chris Yeung, chief writer at Citizen News, told reporters.
Citizen News, which was founded in 2017, said it is not under a government order to close but will shut down anyway because of the “deteriorating” media environment in Hong Kong.
“We all love this place, deeply. Regrettably, what was ahead of us is not just pouring rains or blowing winds, but hurricanes and tsunamis,” Citizen News said in a statement on Sunday, adding that it must ensure the safety of staffers.
“Five years after we were founded, we say goodbye to readers with a heavy heart,” the statement said.
Along with Stand News, Apple Daily — the last pro-democracy paper in the global financial hub — shuttered in June after its editors and owners were arrested and millions of dollars in assets were frozen.
Meanwhile, the 90 lawmakers who won a majority of seats in December’s election after laws were changed to allow only pro-China “patriots” to run the semi-autonomous city were sworn in.
Many opposition figures opted not to seek re-election, left Hong Kong or were jailed in the wake of the new election law.
Voter turnout in the December poll was just over 30 percent.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam oversaw the swearing-in ceremony for the lawmakers that took place under China’s national emblem.
The British returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 after receiving guarantees that individual rights and press freedom would be protected.
But pro-democracy groups claim those rights have been consistently eroded, and the passage of a national security law in June 2020 after protests in 2019 have further weakened them.
The law, intended to curb dissent against China’s Communist Party, criminalizes “secession, subversion, organization and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”
With Post wires