State newspaper accuses Hong Kong media outlet of inciting terrorism amid press freedom fears

2021.05.08

A state-run newspaper has accused online media outlet Stand News of publishing an article that breached the national security law, an accusation that comes amid fears of tightening press freedom in Hong Kong.

The Ta Kung Pao newspaper, which is controlled by Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, accused Stand News of inciting terrorism by publishing an article entitled: “From Northern Ireland’s experience of resistance, we can see the future of Hong Kong’s resistance movement.”

The article, which has since been removed from Stand News’ website, was written by the administrator of a Facebook page called “La Union Européenne En Marche.” The Facebook page has also been made inaccessible.

The author said that the purpose of the article was to examine the future prospects of Hong Kong’s resistance in the post-national security law era, by reflecting upon the experience in Northern Ireland, which saw prolonged civil unrest between 1969 and 1998.

Ta Kung Pao said that although the article has been removed, it cannot be “written off.” It also quoted Lawrence Ma, chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, who said that removing the article does not exempt Stand News from legal liability.

Ma also said that the inclusion of a disclaimer stating that the views expressed by the author do not represent those of Stand News cannot act as a “shield.”

A commentary posted on a separate page of Saturday’s edition of Ta Kung Pao accused Stand News of inciting violence and Hong Kong independence, urging the police’s national security department to follow up on the matter.

When contacted by Apple Daily, Stand News’ editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen said that he was working and would say more on the matter later.

Ta Kung Pao has previously carried articles and commentaries calling for Apple Daily to be banned from operating for inciting Hong Kong independence and breaching the national security law.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government is reportedly still studying the possibility of enacting a “fake news” law, although no draft legislation has yet been unveiled. Carrie Lam told reporters last week that although there was no timetable for such a law to be enacted, the government “will continue to be very serious about this issue because of the damage it is doing to many people.”

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