Two months after Victor Mallet, Asia News Editor at Financial Times cum Vice President of The Hong Kong-based Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), despite objections from the city’s government and Beijing, hosted a speech by Andy CHAN Ho-tin, a HK separatist, Hong Kong has refused to renew Mallet’s work visa. Mallet returned to HK on Sunday night and was allowed to stay for seven days, even though British tourists can stay for six months. On 8 October, the front page of Takungpao, a HK communist newspaper, published an article penned by Chris WAT Wing-yin, a HK columnist famous for her pro-China stance. The article condemns Victor Mallet’s invitation of Andy Chan to deliver the talk as an attempt to “engage in separatist activism on the land of someone else” and stresses that “as we have just asked you to leave instead of executing you by shooting, it must be the most civilized kind of protest.” “You having come to my home, damaged my place, and split up my family, surely it doesn’t mean that you are still supposed to be received with a red carpet?” Wat goes on, “You want to call our not welcoming you retribution? So be it, though this should actually be called self-defense as you have tried to destroy my home.”
“Since when did UK & USA Explain their Refusal to Renew Visas?”
The article, entitled “Since when did Britain and America Explain about their Refusal to Renew Visas?”, points out that in January 2016, Rana Rahimpour, a BBC journalist, was stopped from flying to USA due to her dual British-Iranian nationality; and that in October 2017, prominent Yemeni journalist Afrah Nasser was denied entry to the United States at accept the International Press Freedom award, potentially due to her Yemen nationality. (Editor’s note: on 23 October 2017, Nasser said her US visa was finally approved.)
“Everything has a first time”
Wat claims that the United States has set an international standard for the whole world, that is that national security is to override all freedoms. So it is not surprising at all that the Hong Kong Immigration Department has declined to renew Victor Mallet’s work visa. While FCC thinks that Hong Kong’s refusal to issue a work visa for a foreign reporter is unprecedented, Wat says that everything has a first time, and this occurs in the UK and USA on a regular basis.
HK Executive Council Member Claims Mallet Manufactured News
Ronny TONG Ka-wah, a member of the HK Executive Council, argues on a social media website that Mallet’s visa renewal application was rejected not because he had reported news as a journalist, but because he “manufactured news” in the capacity of the Vice President of FCC. Quoting the examples of the United States’ denial of entry to journalists as cited by Wat, Tong questions, “Why didn’t the UK government then loudly urge the US government to ‘provide an urgent explanation’?” Tong emphasizes that it is highly unfortunate and pitiful that the HKSAR government has again presented those anti-one-country-two-systems people with a new pretext for yelling “freedom of press is dead in Hong Kong!”
USA, UK, Eu, China’s Responses to Mallet’s Case
The US consulate said the rejection was “deeply troubling,” especially since it reflected problems faced by international journalists in mainland China whose visas can be held up or refused because of political considerations.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) asked for “an urgent explanation” as to why Mr Mallet’s visa renewal application was rejected. “Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and its press freedoms are central to its way of life, and must be fully respected,” the FCO said in a statement.
The China government “firmly supports” the local government’s rejection of Victor Mallet’s visa renewal application, according to a statement from the foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong. “No foreign country has any right to interfere,” the office said.
The EU expects the HK government to clarify the reasons of the refusal to grant visa to a journalist. “This incident raises legitimate questions about the freedom of press and expression in HK, which are guaranteed by HK’s Basic Law and ICCPR.”
An Invitation to Deliver a Speech is Equivalent to an Interview
On 14 August, Chapman Chen wrote: Any media registered with the local government is entitled to invite a political speaker to deliver a speech, for this is equivalent to an interview, which does not represent whether the media approves or disapproves of the interviewee’s political advocacy. Freedoms of press and speech is guaranteed in the HK Basic Law and International Human Rights Conventions. If the interviewee is a confirmed terrorist, for sure the police will arrest him beforehand. Now let us look at the practice of some civilized countries.
Dr. Keanu Sai, representative of Kingdom of Hawaii, has been maintaining that Hawaii’s sovereignty has belonged to the Kingdom since 1843. In 2014, he was interviewed by Hawaii News Now, and neither the Hawaiian Government nor Washington condemned the TV Station for aiding and abetting Keanu Sai in splitting the sacred territory of the United States or hurting the feelings of American people. And Keanu Sai himself has never been subjected to any political persecution for his separatist advocacy.
Chris Wat’s Chinese article: http://www.takungpao.com.hk/news/232109/2018/1008/185952.html
Chapman Chen’s article: https://www.localpresshk.com/2018/08/interview-chan/
Photo credit: RTHK