Faith in Hong Kong press freedom sinks to record low: survey

Ronson Chan, who chairs the Hong Kong Journalists Association, speaks with a few supporters before the media after court appearance in Hong Kong on Sept. 22, 2022. - AP

HONG KONG (AFP: Hong Kong journalists' faith in the city being a free press hub has sunk to a record low, with 97 percent saying the reporting environment has become much worse, according to an annual survey released on Friday (Sept 23).

Jointly conducted by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI), the survey interviewed over 1,000 Hong Kong residents and 169 professional journalists.

The press freedom rating for 2021 among journalists plunged six points to 26.2, a record low. When the survey was first launched in 2013 the rating was 42.

Ninety-seven per cent of the surveyed journalists said press freedom had gotten "much worse" in the past year, and 93 percent cited "the government" as the source of suppression.

The press freedom rating among the public was 42, largely stable after the last major drop from 45 in 2018 to 41.9 in 2019.

In the survey's ranking system, a larger number denotes higher faith in press freedoms.

The results were released a day after HKJA chairman Ronson Chan pleaded not guilty to a charge of "obstructing a police officer" while on his way to a reporting assignment.

Police say Chan refused a request to show his identification.

Hong Kong has been steadily dropping down press freedom rankings since the city's 1997 handover to China.

That slide has worsened dramatically since China launched a crackdown on dissent after huge and sometimes violent democracy protests three years ago.

Hong Kong dropped 68 places to 148th in the annual press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) earlier this year.

In RSF's first report in 2002, Hong Kong had some of the freest media in Asia, and ranked 18th worldwide

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