Working conditions for reporters in Hong Kong have grown more challenging over the past 18 months, according to a new survey, with surveillance and wary sources among the issues that are making the reporting environment more difficult.

Of the survey’s 66 respondents, 55 people — or 83% — said the landscape for reporters has worsened in the past 18 months.

Published Wednesday, the anonymous survey was conducted in May by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong.

“This finding, if taken as a true indication of the sentiment amongst other members, is an alarming reflection of the current state of press freedom in the city,” the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, or FCC, said in a statement about the survey results.

Press freedom and other rights in Hong Kong have quickly decayed since the National Security Law came into effect in 2020.

The sweeping law criminalizes any act of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces, and has been used to target independent journalists and pro-democracy activists.

Of the respondents who said speaking to sources is part of their job, about 88% said sources in Hong Kong had become less willing to talk to reporters, especially about sensitive topics. A similar trend has taken place in recent years in mainland China.

Four respondents said they had experienced digital surveillance in Hong Kong over the past 18 months, and one said they experienced physical surveillance. An additional four respondents said they experienced both physical and digital surveillance.

Only 22.5% of the 294 eligible respondents completed the survey, but the FCC said it “nevertheless regards these findings as significant.”

Self-censorship is another concerning factor, with about 65% of respondents saying they had engaged in self-censorship in the past 18 months.

That marks an increase from 2021, when the FCC conducted its last press freedom survey, in which 56% of respondents said they had engaged in self-censorship.

“The FCC supports journalists’ fundamental right to conduct their work freely and without fear of intimidation or harassment,” the FCC said in a statement.

“We will continue our proactive engagement with relevant authorities to safeguard press freedom in the city in order to make sure that Hong Kong remains a thriving hub for journalism and business in the region,” the FCC added.

The News Lens has been authorized to publish this article from Voice of America.

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TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

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