Financial Times Journalist Victor Mallet Barred From Entering Hong Kong

Financial Times Journalist Victor Mallet Barred From Entering Hong Kong
Credit: Reuters / Paul Yeung

What you need to know

Mallet was denied entry as a tourist one month after Hong Kong authorities refused to renew his work visa.

By Casey Quackenbush

A Financial Times editor was barred from entering Hong Kong on Thursday just one month after the city’s immigration authorities refused to renew his work visa without explanation, the Times reports.

After several hours of questioning, immigration officers denied Victor Mallet entry on a tourist visa, the latest indication of what appears to be Beijing’s tightening crackdown on free speech in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

Credit: Reuters / Paul Yeung
Victor Mallet (R), Financial Times journalist and first vice president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC), shakes hands with Andy Chan (C), founder of the Hong Kong National Party, during a luncheon at the FCC in Hong Kong, Aug. 14, 2018.

Mallet’s visa rejection last month is widely understood to be retribution for his chairing of an event with independence activist Andy Chan at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), a local media hub where Mallet was also vice president. Chan’s fringe political group, the Hong Kong National Party, espouses Hong Kong’s independence from mainland China and is now also banned.

Read More: HONG KONG: Independence Activist Andy Chan Defies Beijing with Press Club Talk

“The FCC is shocked and baffled that the government of Hong Kong has denied entry to Victor Mallet,” the FCC said in a statement Friday. The club also reiterated its demand for an explanation for the “aggravated and disproportionate sanction that seems completely unfounded.”

British citizens are usually permitted to enter Hong Kong for up to six months without a visa, according to the U.K. government.

“This action places journalists working in Hong Kong in an opaque environment in which fear and self-censorship may replace the freedom and confidence essential to a free society,” the FCC added.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under a 50-year framework called “One Country, Two Systems.” The agreement enshrined political and social freedoms enjoyed under colonial rule that are otherwise anathema to the Chinese government. But many fear those liberties, including free media and speech, have been steadily eroded under an increasingly assertive Beijing.

Credit: Reuters / Bobby Yip
Pro-democracy lawmakers sit beside placards protesting against Hong Kong's refusal to grant a visa to Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet, as Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivers the annual policy speech at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, Oct. 10, 2018.

Mallet’s rejection comes amid a string of recent events that have stoked fears of censorship. On the same day that Mallet was effectively blacklisted, a government-backed Hong Kong arts center canceled two talks by prominent Chinese dissident writer Ma Jian at an annual literary festival this weekend. Last week, an exhibition of a well-known political cartoonist and critic of the Chinese government, Badiucao, was also canceled.

The Financial Times, which is appealing the Hong Kong’s expulsion of the longtime journalist, says it has not yet received an explanation for Mallet’s rejection.

Seventeen former presidents of the FCC have sent a letter to Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam demanding an explanation.

Read More: HONG KONG: China Silences Badiucao, a Cartoonist Critical of Google's 'Dragonfly'

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TNL Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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