Govt will facilitate operations of foreign press: CE

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the government will continue to facilitate the Hong Kong operations of international media, although she declined to comment on the decision not to renew the work visa of a journalist at The Economist.

The magazine said last week that no explanation was given as to why its China correspondent Wong Sue-lin wasn’t granted a new visa.

Ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said all governments have the right to refuse to issue a visa to a foreign national.

“The issue of visa is the autonomy and the discretion of any government. For example, standing here as the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I’d been denied a visa into the United States of America. Although I would dispute that, but that was the autonomy and the discretion of the US government,” she said.

“So it is always the discretion of the director of immigration to decide on the circumstances of each case, to decide whether they would grant a visa or extend a visa, or impose certain conditions on a visa. We do not comment on individual cases.”

The CE added the government will continue to facilitate the operations of foreign press in Hong Kong, saying past figures published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed that the SAR had continued to grant visas to foreign journalists.

“We will continue to facilitate their stay, their operation, their employment in Hong Kong in accordance with our policy. And of course we now have also a piece of law, called the national security law. So in all aspects of the government activities, national security is clearly a very important consideration,” she said.

Wong, an Australian, is believed to be the fourth foreign journalist to be denied a work visa in the SAR in recent years.