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Hong Kong bars some journalists from covering events, ceremonies marking handover anniversary

Hong Kong bars some journalists from covering events, ceremonies marking handover anniversary

Chinese and Hong Kong flags are hanged to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China, on June 17.Kin Cheung/The Associated Press

Hong Kong authorities, citing “security reasons,” have barred more than 10 journalists from covering events and ceremonies this week marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

The journalists represent at least seven media outlets, including international news agencies Reuters and Agence France-Presse and others from Hong Kong, the association said in a statement posted online late Tuesday.

“The authorities have made ad hoc and narrow interview arrangements at this important juncture and have put forth vague grounds for refusal, seriously undermining the freedom of the press in Hong Kong,” the statement read.

The Hong Kong outlets affected include the English-language South China Morning Post, and Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao as well as online news outlet HK01, the association said. The South China Morning Post said in a news report that one of its photographers had been rejected, with no reason given.

The rejections come amid strict requirements for those attending the July 1 events. Journalists covering the events must have daily COVID-19 nucleic acid tests starting last Sunday and stay in a quarantine hotel from Wednesday.

A news report by Hong Kong Economic Journal said at least three other journalists from local news outlets were informed Wednesday that their applications to cover the events had been rejected.

Despite receiving approvals that had instructions for checking in to the quarantine hotel, some received rejection notices on Wednesday while on their way to the hotel, while others were informed that they were barred from the events upon arrival.

Authorities had invited media outlets to submit up to 20 applications to cover the events – which include a flag-raising ceremony and the inauguration for the new Hong Kong government – but later specified that only one journalist from each outlet could be sent to cover each of the two events.

Reuters said in a news report it had put forward two journalists’ names to cover the events, and that both applications were rejected.

Ming Pao and HK01 did not immediately comment. Agence France-Presse declined to comment and an SCMP spokesperson declined to comment beyond their news report.

The affected media organizations were invited to send other journalists to cover the event, but the replacements must also meet the quarantine and testing requirements, according to the journalist association’s statement.

The Information Services Department, which sent out the initial invites to media outlets informing them to register to cover the event, declined to provide information on how many journalists were given accreditation and also did not comment on an SCMP news report that said one of its own photographers had been barred from the event.

“The government is striking a balance as far as possible between the need of media work and security requirements,” the Information Services Department said in a statement. “We will not comment on the accreditation outcome of individual organizations and persons.”

The rejections came as Hong Kong police confirmed that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the city for the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.

Xi’s visit will be his first trip outside of mainland China since the coronavirus pandemic took hold about 2 1/2 years ago. Police have announced a raft of security measures, including road closures and a no-fly zone.

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Hong Kong restricts access to chief executive inauguration and handover anniversary events – Committee to Protect Journalists

Hong Kong restricts access to chief executive inauguration and handover anniversary events - Committee to Protect Journalists

Taipei, June 16, 2022 — Hong Kong authorities should allow media outlets to freely cover the inauguration of Chief Executive-elect John Lee and the 25th anniversary of the territory’s handover to China, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On the evening of Thursday, June 16, applications closed for media outlets to seek access to cover ceremonies marking both events, scheduled for July 1; the Hong Kong Journalists Association trade group and the Hong Kong Free Press news website both reported that at least 10 domestic and local outlets were not invited or allowed to apply to cover the events.

The HKFP reported that many of those outlets regularly receive invitations to other Hong Kong government events, but the Information Services Department, the government’s primary communication agency, said only select media outlets had been invited to cover the July 1 events due to considerations including the COVID-19 pandemic, security requirements, and space restraints.

Hong Kong news website InMedia reported that, when it applied to cover the events, an Information Services Department official said “those who need invitations have already received theirs.”

“Hong Kong’s claims to honor press freedom should compel it to offer open access for media coverage of important events, such as the inauguration of John Lee as chief executive and the 25th anniversary of the handover,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Barring some media outlets from freely covering such events severely undercuts the credibility of incoming Chief Executive Lee, who has repeatedly said that Hong Kong enjoys press freedom.”

The Information Services Department failed to invite or approve access for the Japanese outlets Nikkei, Asahi Shimbun, and Kyodo News; Taiwan’s CTV; the U.S. photo wire Getty Images; the Europe Pressphoto Agency; and Hong Kong’s InMedia, the Photographic Society of Hong Kong, Truth Media Hong Kong, and the HKFP, according to the HKFP’s report.

According to InMedia, the department asked news outlets to include photos and the personal information of the journalists who planned to attend in their applications.

In its statement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association called for authorities to be more inclusive by accepting media organizations’ applications to attend the events.

CPJ emailed the Information Services Department for comment but did not immediately receive any reply.

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Yahoo launching Metaverse events for Hong Kong residents under restrictions

Yahoo launching Metaverse events for Hong Kong residents under restrictions

Yahoo has announced a series of Metaverse and NFT-related activities in Hong Kong, a day after Meta Platforms outlined its own metaverse plans for the region.

Yahoo, a US-based internet media company, revealed that it will host a series of virtual events and concerts for Hong Kong residents in the Decentraland metaverse.

According to Lorraine Cheung, the head of audience at Yahoo Hong Kong, the company sees the Metaverse as an attractive alternative for Hong Kong residents looking to engage in social activities while pandemic restrictions remain in force. On Thursday last week, a nation-wide mandate was introduced requiring that a negative Covid test be provided to enter all public venues such bars and restaurants.

“We hope to use the Metaverse to connect people regardless of time and physical location.”

Yahoo will also launch a non-fungible token (NFT) exhibition called The Abyss of Kwun Tong, which will see local artists virtually recreate the historic neighborhood of Kwun Tong which has been heavily impacted by redevelopment.

Creative Producer Leung Ching-hsuan said that the goal of the NFT exhibition was to “retain humanity using technology.”

On Tuesday, the social-media giant Meta put forward a strategy to work alongside local businesses and organizations such as cafes, schools and art galleries to create ‘“first-hand” Metaverse experiences for residents.

Major companies are increasingly embracing the Metaverse with international consulting firm McKinsey releasing a report this week predicting that Metaverse-related spending could be worth nearly $5 trillion by 2030.

Earlier this year, JPMorgan, the largest bank in the United States, made headlines by releasing a report that called Metaverse technology a “one trillion-dollar opportunity”, alongside opening their own virtual headquarters in the Decentraland metaverse.

Related: 71% of high net worth individuals have invested in digital assets: Survey

Decentraland’s MANA token has rallied today, gaining a little over 14% in the last 24 hours according to data from CoinMarketCap.