Beijing denounces FCC for Bao Choy comments

The Foreign Ministry’s representative in Hong Kong has condemned the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, as well as “external forces”, for their “unwarranted” remarks about the conviction of investigative journalist Bao Choy.

In a statement, the Office of the Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry said these bodies have trampled on the rule of law and interfered in local affairs, by using the issue of press freedom to “smear” the SAR government.

On Thursday, Choy was fined HK$6,000 after being found guilty of violating the Road Traffic Ordinance by making false declarations as to the purpose of car licence plate searches she carried out as part of an investigation for RTHK on the 2019 Yuen Long attacks.

The FCC said the government’s actions against Choy had set a dangerous precedent.

“They open the door to further legal action against journalists for engaging in routine reporting,” it said in a statement.

“While we appreciate that the judge overseeing the case spared Choy jail time, citing the merits of her reporting and the public interest involved, we wish the prosecutors had shown similar restraint and never brought this case in the first place,” it added.

The European Union said Choy’s conviction was a reminder that “press freedom cannot be taken for granted and that the law should not be deployed in a way that stifles legitimate journalism”, while the US State Department said Washington was “deeply disappointed” by Choy’s conviction “for merely doing her job”.

But a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry’s office said Choy’s prosecution had nothing to do with press freedom. It said the evidence against her was clear and the court ruling was just.

It said some foreign forces are seeking “special privileges” in the name of press freedom, to obstruct the governance of the SAR administration. The office said these efforts will be in vain, however, because no organisation or person is above the law.