Another Hong Kong news outlet announces closure amid dissent

An online Hong Kong news site said on Sunday it would suspend operations in light of destroyed press freedom, days after police raided seven people and arrested them for sedition at a separate pro-democracy news outlet.

Citizen News announced its decision Sunday in a Facebook post. It said it would stop updating its site on January 4, and it would be shuttered thereafter.

“We all love this place, deeply. Unfortunately, what was before us was not just torrential rains or blowing winds, but hurricanes and tsunamis,” it said in a statement.

“We have never forgotten our original intention. Unfortunately, we can no longer strive to make our faith a reality without fear because of the sea change in society of the past two years and the inferior media environment.”

Citizen News is the third news outlet to close in recent months, according to the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and online site Stand News. Authorities have moved to silence dissidents in the semi-autonomous city, formerly known as a live media hub, after Beijing implemented a comprehensive national security law following massive pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The threatening closure of Citizen News came days after authorities raided Stand News and arrested seven people – including editors and former board members – for alleged collusion to publish sedition material. Stand News announced the same day that it would stop.

Two of the former Stand News editors who were arrested were later formally charged with sedition.

A demonstrator held a sign with “Support Press Freedom in Hong Kong” outside the Bank of China in Taipei, Taiwan, on December 30, a day after authorities raided Stand News. (Chiang Ying-ying / The Associated Press)

In December, the opposition was excluded from elections under a new law that puts all candidates to a loyalty test, and monuments commemorating the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square in Beijing were taken down.

The US and other Western governments have condemned the growing press and civil liberties that Beijing has promised to maintain for 50 years after the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong from Britain.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam last week defended the raid on Stand News, telling reporters that “inciting other people … could not be condoned under the guise of news reporting.”

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