TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As China's revenge on five U.S. media outlets brings tensions between the two superpowers to a boiling point, Hongkongers are appalled by Beijing's increasing intrusion into the region's autonomy.
The move by the Chinese, which will require five major U.S. media outlets to report the details of their operations in China as well as expel their American personnel from China, Hong Kong, and Macau, was justified by the country as "a forced reciprocal countermeasure to the irrational oppression placed on the Chinese media by US government."
Right after China announced the new measures, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong (FCC) swiftly demanded that the Hong Kong government confirm all foreign journalists working in Hong Kong will be continuously issued employment visas without interference from the Chinese government.
According to the association, all decisions about employment visas for foreign nationals in Hong Kong should be made independently by the Hong Kong Immigration Department under the Basic Law.
However, the branch office of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong decried this demand and reaffirmed China's central government has the absolute right to decide the foreign affairs for Hong Kong based on the Basic Law and the "one country, two systems" policy. The office asserted that the U.S. should take responsibility for all these confrontations.
Senior journalist and Hong Kong legislative councilor Claudia Mo (毛孟靜) contended that China's approach means "one country, two systems" is already dead.
"According to the Basic Law, Hong Kong possesses total control over its immigration system. The fact that Beijing dragged Hong Kong into its revenge plot proved that it no longer cares about the territory's rights," Mo commented, according to RFA.
On the other hand, opinions from some pro-Beijing legislators indicate that the conflict was more about political wrestling than press freedom, even though most agreed that Hong Kong ought to protect international media in order to secure its position as an international finance center.
The Hong Kong government has not directly responded to the FCC's proposal, but it released a statement saying that its immigration office will follow the laws and policies of Hong Kong in deciding whether to grant entry to each individual.