Hong Kong has plummeted down its international press freedom chart as authorities have wielded a draconian new security law to silence critical news outlets and jail journalists, a new report said on Tuesday.
Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders RSF has ranked countries and territories around the world by how free their press is.
Hong Kong, a regional media hub for both international and local media, has been steadily slipping down the table under Chinese rule.
In the last year alone, it has plunged 68 places to 148th, sandwiching the international business hub between the Philippines and Turkey.
It is the biggest downfall of the year, but it is fully deserved due to the constant attacks on freedom of the press and the slow disappearance of the rule of law in Hong Kong, said Cedric Alviani, head of RSF's Taiwan-based East Asia bureau.
He said that we have seen a drastic move against journalists in the past year.
The Chinese imposed more authoritarian restrictions on Hong Kong after large-scale pro-democracy protests three years ago.
In 2020 a sweeping national security law was put in place that has since crushed dissent and has seen dozens of democracy activists jailed as well as journalists.
Alviani said authorities initially used the law to pursue political opponents and democracy activists, but it started to be used against local media throughout 2021.
In a year ago, Apple Daily and Stand News, two popular outlets that were critical of the government, collapsed after newsroom leaders were arrested and company assets were frozen by the security law.
Alviani said that RSF's database now lists 13 Hong Kong media workers as being in jail, a number he said is enormous and equivalent to almost 10% of all known journalist detentions in China.
China is currently sitting at 175th out of 180, ranked by RSF as one of the world s most hostile countries for journalists.
The security law has been directed against local media, but questions have swirled over the future of the international press based in the territory.
The foreign press club of the city scrapped Asia's most prestigious human rights awards last week, citing the threat posed by the security law.
Multiple major news outlets — including AFP, Bloomberg, CNN, the Economist and the Financial Times — have longstanding Asia headquarters in the city.
Without correspondents in Hong Kong, no media can do it. Why does the media need a regional headquarters in Hong Kong? Is it safe to leave your computer archive, to leave your server, to leave your management team in Hong Kong?