Police stand guard during a protest in Hong Kong on October 1, 2021. Hong Kong authorities refused to renew the visa of The Economist’s China correspondent, Sue-Lin Wong, which prevents her from working in the city. (AFP/Isaac Lawrence)

Hong Kong refuses visa renewal for Economist correspondent Sue-Lin Wong

Taipei, November 15, 2021 – Hong Kong authorities should renew the visa of The Economist’s China correspondent, Sue-Lin Wong, and allow foreign correspondents to work freely in the city, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Hong Kong authorities refused to renew Wong’s employment visa, according to a November 12 statement by The Economist’s editor-in-chief, Zanny Minton Beddoes. The Hong Kong government did not cite any specific reason for declining to renew Wong’s visa, Beddoes said in the statement. Wong, who is Australian, was not currently in Hong Kong and was refused permission to return to the city, according to the statement and news reports.

“Hong Kong’s refusal to renew a visa for The Economist’s correspondent Sue-Lin Wong shreds repeated claims by the Hong Kong government that it upholds press freedom,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Hong Kong authorities should reverse this decision immediately and allow journalists—local and international—to work without interference.”

“We regret their decision, which was given without explanation,” said Beddoes. “We urge the government of Hong Kong to maintain access for the foreign press, which is vital to the territory’s standing as an international city.”

The Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club also released a statement calling on the Hong Kong government to provide “assurances that applications for employment visas will be handled in a timely manner, and that the visa process for journalists will not be politicized or weaponized.”

In July 2020, Hong Kong authorities refused to renew New York Times reporter Chris Buckley’s work permit, and a month later, Hong Kong Free Press’s editor Aaron Mc Nicholas was also denied a work visa, as CPJ documented. CPJ has documented the steady erosion of press freedom in the former British colony.

The Hong Kong immigration department did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment.