When was the local act passed

Hong KongEnd of freedom of the press

"Hong Kong will remain a free society. Freedom of expression, demonstrations and free press will continue because these rights are fundamental values ​​of Hong Kong and are protected by our constitution," said Carrie Lam at the end of May about the so-called security law.

The assessment of the head of government of the Chinese special administrative region Hong Kong is not surprising. She is considered the puppet of the Chinese government. The National People's Congress of China had recently introduced the law, which has now been finally passed.

One country two (press) systems

The working conditions for journalists on site are anything but ideal. In the annual press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders, Hong Kong only ranks 80th; in 2002 it was 18th.

The increasing influence of the Chinese government over the government of the Special Administrative Region is also clearly evident at this point. Conditions have deteriorated significantly over the past few years. Several media outlets in Hong Kong are controlled by the Chinese government, and journalists were attacked several times by pro-government groups during protests last year.

However, the conditions for the media are still relatively free, and the situation cannot be compared with the conditions for journalists in the rest of China. "The trend is the deciding factor. It is clearly going in the direction of more censorship, more control, more self-censorship," says ARD correspondent Steffen Wurzel. This is also feared by local journalists such as the China-critical publisher Jimmy Lai.

Newspaper publisher Jimmy Lai, who is critical of China, has been arrested for fear of further restrictions. (epa / Alex Hofford)

Wanted uncertainty

In fact, the law is not very clearly worded with regard to the media, analyzes the non-governmental organization "Reporters Without Borders". However, the new regulation will likely lead to self-censorship because journalists fear repressive measures by the Chinese central government.

So far, some local media, such as the Hong Kong Free Press, have reported openly and in detail about the protests. Editor-in-chief Tom Grundy fears that this will no longer be possible under the new laws.

His concern is not unfounded: the democracy movement, which was very active in the past year, is classified by the government as "terrorism". According to "Reporters Without Borders", reporting on their protests alone could now be seen as an act of terrorism.

Another concern of the organization: If journalists publish confidential information, it could be interpreted by the Chinese government as "passing on state secrets". For ARD correspondent Wurzel it is clear: "If you draw a line under it, it is simply very clear that of course freedom of expression is blatantly curtailed."

Hospital workers in the Chinese city of Nanning. (imago / Xinhua / Cui Bowen)

Media strategy in China
The Chinese government is increasingly trying to influence how the country is reported. To this end, the foreign headquarters of state television is being expanded. Correspondents from other media are also called in again and again

What will change for correspondents?

The so-called security law is already having an effect. Supporters of the protest movement in Hong Kong have already taken down their posters. In addition, not all residents of the city want to give interviews, even though they did so earlier. The fear of the Chinese authorities is too great, Wurzel reports on his own experience.

In general, it remains to be seen how the situation will change for foreign journalists if they want to report on and from Hong Kong. Two years ago Victor Mallet was expelled from Hong Kong by the Financial Times. As vice-president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCCHK), he had previously invited the head of a small party to an event calling for Hong Kong's independence from China.

The Chinese government tries again and again to influence and limit the reporting of foreign media. Just a few months ago, several journalists working for the US media in China were expelled, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.