April 13, 2000
His Excellency Jiang Zemin
President, People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
VIA FACSIMILE: 86-10-6512-5810
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply disturbed by the April 12 statements of a senior Chinese official, warning Hong Kong media that they are not free to report independently on the contentious issue of Taiwan's political status.
"The Hong Kong media should not spread and advocate the Ôtwo states' theory and the independence of Taiwan," said Wang Fengchao, deputy director of the Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong, speaking at a seminar organized by the Hong Kong Association of Journalists. According to a report published by China's official news agency, Xinhua, Wang added that the issue of Taiwan's independence could not be treated as a normal news story as "the media should make decisions in the interest of national unity."
Wang also urged the Hong Kong government to draft anti-subversion legislation that could be used to curb press coverage of statements in support of Taiwan's independence.
Wang's comments followed last week's television broadcast of an interview with Taiwan's vice president-elect, Annette Lu Hsiu-lien. The Hong Kong television station Cable TV carried the interview, in which Lu stated that Taiwan should be considered a "remote relative and close neighbor of China." China considers Taiwan a renegade province, and has threatened war if Taipei declares independence.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of media freedom around the world, CPJ is dismayed by Wang's apparent disregard for Article 27 of Hong Kong's Basic Law, which states that "Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press, and of publication." Wang's remarks violate the principle of "one country, two systems," which was designed to preserve Hong Kong's civil and political liberties, including press freedom.
CPJ welcomes the statement issued yesterday by Anson Chan, Hong Kong's acting chief executive, reaffirming that Hong Kong media "are free to comment and report on all matters of current interest." We urge Your Excellency to uphold Beijing's pledge to respect Hong Kong's autonomy, and to guarantee publicly that Hong Kong's media will not be subject to official interference from Beijing.
We thank you for your attention to this matter, and await your response.
Ann K. Cooper