US-funded Radio Free Asia Shuts Down Hong Kong Bureau Amid Safety Concerns Over New Security Law

By Jace Dela Cruz

Mar 30, 2024 02:12 AM EDT

A delivery worker crosses a street in the rain in front of a tram in Hong Kong on October 18, 2023.
(Photo : PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

The closure of US-funded Radio Free Asia's (RFA) Hong Kong bureau due to safety concerns arising from the city's new national security law has heightened apprehensions over media freedoms, according to a report by ABC News.

Radio Free Asia Shuts Down its Hong Kong Bureau

President Bay Fang announced on Friday that while the bureau would maintain its official media registration, it would no longer have full-time staff in Hong Kong, citing uncertainties surrounding the enforcement of Article 23 of the national security law. 

This move by RFA reflects the tightening constraints faced by media outlets in Hong Kong following the implementation of the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, commonly referred to as the Article 23 legislation. 

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Press Freedom Woes in Hong Kong

Rep. Gregory Meeks, the House Foreign Affairs Committee's ranking member, voiced concern about RFA's closure, stating that the recent legislation not only intensifies attempts to stifle free expression but also erodes press freedom and the public's ability to obtain reliable information.

Cédric Alviani, the director of the Asia-Pacific bureau at Reporters Without Borders, interpreted RFA's departure as a result of the intimidating atmosphere created by the new security law on media organizations. 

Alviani called on democratic nations to pressure Chinese authorities into reinstating press freedom in Hong Kong. 

In response to the crackdown on rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, the US State Department announced plans to impose new visa restrictions on certain Hong Kong officials. 

The department expressed concerns that the security law could stifle dissent within Hong Kong and bolster Beijing's efforts to intimidate activists overseas.

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