Freedom of speech in Hong Kong

October 9, 2018—The Hong Kong government rejected an application by Victor Mallet, a British journalist working for the Financial Times and vice president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, to have his work permit extended.

The story broke on Friday, October 5, and Hong Kong authorities have declined to explain the decision, despite expressions of concern by the US and UK governments, competing news outlets and journalism bodies. The decision is widely believed to be retribution for Mallet’s role in hosting a presentation at the FCC by Hong Kong independence advocate Andy Chan in August 2018.

Journalist expulsions are not unusual in Asia. China, Indonesia and North Korea have all done so recently.

But the government’s move is unprecedented in Hong Kong, where freedom of speech is guaranteed under the Basic Law.

The bottom line? Know where the “red lines” are if you are speaking to reporters outside your home country. And remember that rules change, sometimes very quickly.