A security officer checks journalists' belongings at Macau International Airport on December 18, 2019. At least three journalists were recently denied entry into the territory. (Reuters/Jason Lee)
A security officer checks journalists’ belongings at Macau International Airport on December 18, 2019. At least three journalists were recently denied entry into the territory. (Reuters/Jason Lee)

At least 3 Hong Kong journalists denied entry to Macao to cover Xi visit

Taipei, December 18, 2019 — Authorities in Macao should allow all journalists to enter and report freely from the territory, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Since December 16, Macanese and mainland Chinese authorities have denied entry to at least three Hong Kong reporters traveling to the territory to cover a visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping marking the 20th anniversary of Macao’s handover to China as a special administrative region, similar in status to Hong Kong, according to news reports.

All three journalists had valid press accreditations granted by the Macanese government to cover Xi’s visit, according to reports by their employers.

“Denying entry to a raft of Hong Kong reporters who were already accredited to cover the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Macao is a completely unwarranted suppression of press freedom,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler from Washington, D.C. “Macao authorities should immediately reverse these decisions and welcome them to the territory.”

On December 16, mainland Chinese security officers at a border checkpoint on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge stopped and searched Tsang Chun Ho, a reporter with Hong Kong broadcaster Now TV News, according to a report by his employer. The officers detained him for more than an hour and then said that he could not enter Macao, and sent him back to Hong Kong, according to that report.

On December 17, Macao authorities detained and questioned Phila Siu, a reporter at the English-language Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post, at the Macao Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal for three hours and then denied him entry, according to a report by the Post. Authorities asked Siu to provide personal information, including his address, parents’ names, marital status, and the purpose of his visit to Macao, according to that report.

In a written statement given to Siu, Macao border officers stated that there were “strong signs” that Siu would attempt to engage in activities that would “jeopardize the public safety and public order” in Macao, according to the Post’s report.

Today, Macao authorities denied entry to a reporter from public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong, whose name was not released, according to a report by the broadcaster. Border authorities questioned the reporter for more than two hours and searched their phone, according to the broadcaster.

Following their release, the reporter was given a statement with the same language as Siu’s, according to that report.

Online news outlet HKO1 reported today that journalists from TVB, Apple Daily, and Commercial Radio Hong Kong were also denied entry to Macao.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association released a statement today urging Macanese authorities to allow journalists to enter the territory freely.

The Macao Special Administrative Region Government did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.