Financial Times editor given one week to leave Hong Kong

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Financial Times Asia News editor Victor Mallet has been denied a new work visa by the Chinese territory. The move came shortly after he hosted a talk by a pro-independence politician.

Outraged Hong Kong media and legal groups pushed the government on Monday to provide an explanation for why a Western journalist had his visa renewal denied. Financial Times Asia news editor Victor Mallet was denied a new work visa after hosting a talk by a pro-independence activist.

Mallet is the vice president of the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), which was recently condemned by officials in Hong Kong and mainland China for holding a speech by Andy Chan. Chan is one of the politicians who candidacy for the controversial legislative council election in 2016 was disqualified by officials in Beijing. He is also a founding member of the Hong Kong National Party, which advocates for the city’s independence. At the end of September, it becamethe first political party to be banned in the city’s history.

FFC President Florence de Changy, sympathetic legislators and other journalists stood outside the government’s offices on Monday in protest.

“Immigration officials did not provide an explanation for the shortened visitor visa, and we continue to seek clarification from the Hong Kong authorities about the rejection of [Mallet’s] work visa renewal,” the Financial Times said in a statement.

Reporters Without Borders and the Hong Kong Bar Association have also criticized the move.

Questions over promised freedoms

The incident has prompted renewed debate over freedoms that were promised when China retook possession of the territory from the UK in 1997. Hong Kong was promised a certain degree of autonomy, democratic elections, and freedom of the press – but Beijing has been clamping down on all three.

Mallet was refused his visa last week while he was traveling. He was allowed back into the territory on Sunday, but was only given a seven-day tourist visa. British nationals are usually entitled to six-month visas.

© Getty Images/AFP/A. Wallace

The China Daily defended Hong Kong’s decision in an editorial, saying that the region’s sovereign right to deny a visa renewal was “beyond criticism.”

“Foreign governments demanding an explanation know this. What they really want is not an answer but to create the illusion that freedom of speech and the press in Hong Kong is dwindling,” the paper said.

The Global Times newspaper, published by the Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, insisted that Mallet had “damaged China’s national security and undermined freedom of expression.”

“Hong Kong will get better without Mallet. The city’s future doesn’t need to be the concern of Mallet, the UK government or Western media,” the Global Times said.

es/ (AP, Reuters)

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