CIA Docs Reveal Fears over Press Freedom in HK

The United States Central Intelligence Agency has recently released millions of documents online, featuring memos, analyses, and research dated from the 1970s to the 1990s. Papers written by, as well as memorandums directed towards, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was a key player in forming diplomatic ties between the U.S. and China under Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong, reveal new insight into Sino-U.S. relations and express American concerns over Hong Kong’s future under Chinese rule.

document dated September 19th, 1986 describes concerns over Hong Kong’s transition from British to Chinese rule. The document was created almost two years after the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which established the “One Country, Two Systems” principle that ensured China’s socialist policies would not be implemented in Hong Kong’s capitalist economy and society. Crucially, the document also reveals concerns over Beijing’s influence over Hong Kong press:

“The Chinese are also more often using leftist press to try to shape public opinion, while trying to intimidate and co-opt Hong Kong’s independent media…the NCNA [New China News Agency] office in Hong Kong is systematically cultivating local newspaper editors and reporters by offering them home mortgage loans through local Chinese banks.”

It appears that U.S. fears over erosion of press freedom and independence in Hong Kong have truly taken shape 30 years later. With Chinese behemoth Alibaba taking ownership of the South China Morning Post and increasing self-censorship by Chinese-language newspapers like Ming Pao and Sing Tao Daily, China’s influence on the Hong Kong press has become more potent and evident than ever before.

Image Credit: The New York Times

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