Hong Kong bars British editor from entering city following visa ban

Victor Mallet ‘attempted to enter Hong Kong on Thursday as a visitor but was turned away at the border after several hours of questioning by immigration officers,’ a media report said. (Reuters)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Hong Kong bars British editor from entering city following visa ban

  • Hong Kong’s government said on Friday it does not comment on individual immigration cases
  • Authorities have not said why Victor Mallet’s work visa was not renewed

HONG KONG: Hong Kong barred the Asia news editor of the Financial Times from entering the city as a visitor, the newspaper said, after authorities refused to renew his work visa in October, raising questions about the city’s commitment to free speech.
Victor Mallet “attempted to enter Hong Kong on Thursday as a visitor but was turned away at the border after several hours of questioning by immigration officers,” the Financial Times said.
Mallet did not comment further when contacted by Reuters.
Hong Kong’s government said on Friday it does not comment on individual immigration cases.
“In handling each immigration case, the Immigration Department will act in accordance with the laws and policies, and decide whether the entry will be allowed or refused after careful consideration of circumstances of each case,” the government said in an emailed statement.
Analysts have cited the FT editor’s case among other examples of Hong Kong officials taking a tough line on perceived critics and dissent in the former British colony.
On Thursday, a prominent Chinese dissident writer, Ma Jian, said on Twitter that he was told by a Hong Kong arts center that it would no longer host two of his talks as part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.
In Mallet’s case, the government declined to renew his work visa last month after a speech he hosted at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) by an independence activist was strongly condemned by officials in China and Hong Kong.
Authorities have not said why Mallet’s work visa was not renewed.
The decision shocked many in the city’s international community and reignited a debate about the viability of promised freedoms in Asian financial hub.
China’s Foreign Ministry had urged the FCC to withdraw its invitation to Andy Chan, a founder of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, which was formally banned by Hong Kong authorities in September.
The FCC, however, refused to cancel the event saying it defended free speech, while neither endorsing nor supporting the views of its speakers.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have said the notion of independence violates the principle of “one country, two systems” under which the territory has been governed since Britain handed it back to China in 1997.
The principle promises Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed elsewhere in China, rights which are enshrined in a mini-constitution known as the Basic Law.
The human rights situation in Hong Kong received unprecedented scrutiny this week from several foreign governments at a United Nations hearing.
On Thursday, the exiled Chinese author Ma Jian tweeted that the Tai Kwun arts center had canceled his events there.
The arts center, which was set up with government support, gave no immediate comment to Reuters.
Ma said he had been unable to find a Hong Kong publisher for his satirical novel, China Dream, dubbed by Hong Kong’s literary festival organizers as “Ma’s answer to President Xi Jinping’s goal of restored national greatness.”
“I’m a novelist, not an activist, and am attending the Festival to discuss my new novel, China Dream. My ‘politics’ are simple: I believe in free thought and free speech. Without them, life has no meaning,” Ma wrote on Twitter.
Ma is due to arrive in Hong Kong on Friday afternoon.


Despite setbacks, Arab summit at media forefront

Updated 20 January 2019
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Despite setbacks, Arab summit at media forefront

  • Japanese journalist says they have to cover the summit because the Mideast region is too important for Japan
  • TV, print and radio journalists were given the necessary equipment and space to allow constant reporting of the summit’s opening remarks

BEIRUT: Journalists from across the world gathered in Lebanon’s Beirut Waterfront to cover the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit on Sunday despite the tumultuous days leading up to the event.

It was not just Arab and Middle Eastern journalists who were present at the summit’s official media center; reporters from Japan, Europe and the US were also in attendance. 

There were conflicting reports on the number of journalists attending, ranging from 600 to double that. The summit’s official spokesman Dany Najim said 1,200 journalists covered the event. 

In addition to journalists working with news organizations and institutions were those traveling as part of country delegations. 

The Arab League sent 11 journalists, while official numbers put an average of 10 journalists per delegation. 

“We must cover the summit. The region is very important to us. It’s where we buy oil and gas,” said a Japanese journalist.

TV, print and radio journalists were given the necessary equipment and space to allow constant reporting of the summit’s opening remarks. While they were placed in a hall adjacent to the main summit meeting room, two large screens were continuously airing the summit’s activities and talks.

Rigid security protocols were in place for the safety of attending delegations. Roads starting from Beirut’s Phoenicia Hotel in Minet Al-Hosn district all the way to Al-Nahar newspaper’s offices in Martyrs’ Square were closed as part of a security zone. 

Transportation of journalists was organized by the summit, where a bus was available round the clock to pick them up and take them to the Monroe Hotel — the media hub for the summit — in Minet Al-Hosn, before taking another bus to the Beirut Waterfront.

Several stores and restaurants were forced to shut for the days of the summit, while some issued mass text messages to the public to announce that they will stay open.

This is the fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit. The previous ones were hosted by Kuwait in 2009, Egypt in 2011, and Saudi Arabia in 2013.