Hong Kong authorities have banned select media outlets from covering incoming leader John Lee's inauguration, citing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and security reasons.
Many of the barred outlets are registered and regularly attend governmnet press conferences, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.
The list of excluded media outlets includes Japan's Nikkei, Asahi Shimbun, and Kyodo News, Taiwan's CTV, Getty Images in the US, as well as Hong Kong's InMedia, and HKFP. According to Hong Kong Free Press, the European Pressphoto Agency also did not receive an invite.
In an event that will reportedly see the attendance of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, select broadcasters have been nominated.
"[T]he Government has adopted suitable media arrangements after taking into consideration the latest epidemic situation, security requirements and venue constraints, etc.," a spokesperson told HKFP, despite there being no record of security concerns at similar events involving the press. "These factors pose impact on the number of media organisations being invited to apply for accreditation," they added.
In a statement on Thursday, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said that it was "deeply concerned" by the move.
"[HKJA] urges the city's authorities to be more inclusive by accepting applications from media organisations keen to attend, so that those with a considerable readership can fulfil their duty in keeping the public informed by reporting on Hong Kong's historic moments," they said.
Last month, Xi Jinping met the newly appointed Hong Kong chief executive and thanked him for achieving a major transition in the city which he described as from "chaos to order."
In a meeting in Beijing, Xi congratulated Lee on his election win and appointment by the central government. Lee was the former security chief of Hong Kong who oversaw the crackdown on the democracy movement.
Lee, 64, is scheduled to assume his office on July 1, taking over from current chief executive Carrie Lam. The event will coincide with the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's transfer from British to Beijing under the "one country, two systems" framework to safeguard Hong Kong's freedoms.
Praising Lee for maintaining the unwavering stance of loving the country and Hong Kong, being willing to assume responsibilities and actively performing his duties, Xi said Lee has made contributions to safeguarding national security and Hong Kong's prosperity and stability in various roles. (ANI)