The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deployed more than 200 special agents in Hong Kong to intervene in the news media Stand News, one of the few remaining opponents of the regime in the city. In addition to shutting down the newspaper, at least seven employees were detained. U.S. officials and the United Nations (UN) complained to China about what happened.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy media, Stand News, was shut down on Wednesday, Dec. 29, after 200 police raided its office. Communist authorities also froze its assets and ordered the arrest of its executives for alleged “seditious publication” offenses in the latest crackdown on the city’s media, Reuters reported.
One of the main commitments announced by the Chinese regime when in 1997 Britain opted to cede control of the city of Hong Kong was that its fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press, would be respected.
The relative autonomy was maintained for several years, but during the last years and especially since 2020, when the CCP imposed the controversial National Security Law in Hong Kong, the promises of freedom completely vanished.
The regime’s actions, which could be seen on Wednesday, raised a new alarm in the international community, and world authorities quickly condemned the situation.
The UN said it was alarmed by the “extremely rapid closing of the civic space and outlets for Hong Kong’s civil society to speak and express themselves freely.”
In the same vein, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Beijing and the Hong Kong government to immediately release media personnel arrested during the raids.
In an official statement, Blinken said:
“We call on PRC [People’s Republic of China] and Hong Kong authorities to cease targeting Hong Kong’s free and independent media, and to immediately release those journalists and media executives who have been unjustly detained and charged.”
Just hours after the raid, Stand News announced that it would cease operations. Currently, the company’s website is inaccessible, and its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts have been deleted. All videos on its YouTube channel were also deleted.
Stand News had an office in the United Kingdom, which was also closed, as confirmed from its Facebook account by Yeung Tin Shui, the director who also resigned from his position without giving further details of what happened.
Stand News is the second Hong Kong media outlet that closed this year. In June, 500 police officers raided the headquarters of local newspaper Apple Daily, and the paper printed its last edition less than ten days later.
After the forced closure of Apple Daily, Stand News became the most important pro-democracy media outlet in Hong Kong. Still, unfortunately, a few months later, it suffered the same fate at the hands of the CCP, an organization perfectly trained to eliminate dissent and voices critical of the Party.
“Journalism is not sedition,” Blinken asserted. “By silencing independent media, PRC and local authorities undermine Hong Kong’s credibility and viability.”
“A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press,” the secretary of state concluded.