US outlet Radio Free Asia closes Hong Kong office over security law fears

US outlet Radio Free Asia closes Hong Kong office over security law fears

After the city passed a new national security law, Radio Free Asia ( RFA ), a news outlet in the US, announced on Friday ( Mar 29 ) that it had decided to close its Hong Kong office due to concerns about staff safety.

A domestic security law, known as Article 23, was passed last week by the Chinese financial hub, which forbade crimes like treason, espionage, and other forms of foreign interference.

In a speech, RFA president and CEO Bay Fang stated that the company has closed its actual location in Hong Kong due to” concerns about the safety of RFA workers and writers.”

With the passage of Article 23, Fang remarked,” Our ability to operate in health is seriously questioned by deeds by Hong Kong officials, including referring to RFA as a “foreign power.”

Regulators” strongly disapprove of and condemn all scaremongering and smeared notes” in relation to the national security law, according to a government spokeswoman who declined to comment on “operational choices of unique organizations.”

The director told AFP on Friday,” To one out Hong Kong and indicate that journalists may only experience problems when operating here but not in other countries may be grossly biased, if not outrageous.”

When it was reported that some new crimes would target the press, Hong Kong’s security chief Chris Tang criticized RFA last month for” smearing” Article 23.

In the article by RFA, censure of the legislation was made.

When asked if RFA had broken the law, Tang later claimed that he wanted to make people aware of inaccurate information being sold by “foreign makes.”

According to its website, the Washington-based media outlet is funded by the US Congress through an independent national government agency that controls the country’s human international press.

RFA opened its Hong Kong company in 1996 and has operated as a secret media company with editorial democracy, according to Fang’s speech Friday.

Fang cited its “frontline status” as a reason for the” RFA will switch to using a different journalistic model that is reserved for closed media environments.”

RFA is the first foreign media outlet to make a public announcement about its demise in Hong Kong since the Mar 23 passage of the national security law.

Officials in Hong Kong have defended the new security legislation as necessary to “plug” security gaps. It is the second of its kind, following one passed by Beijing in 2020.

Authorities also cited a” constitutional responsibility” to create it under the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini- constitution since its handover from Britain to China in 1997.

The United States, the European Union, Japan and Britain have been among Article 23’s strongest critics.