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August 6, 2020, 03.07 PM

HONG KONG, – Hong Kong’s foreign press club has cited “highly unusual” visa problems that it attributes to the spiraling US-China conflict.

The press club has called on China and the United States to stop using the media as a political weapon as relations between both nations continue to deteriorate.

Journalists have been caught in the middle in the US-China conflict with both countries imposing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in recent months.

Read also: US and China Disagreements Prompt Calls for Global Unity

Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city and regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies.

In a statement released Thursday, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong (FCCHK) said multiple media outlets had reported delays getting visas in recent months.

"The delays have affected journalists of multiple nationalities and in some cases have prevented journalists from working," the FCCHK said.

"The delays are highly unusual for Hong Kong, a city with historically robust press protections," it added.

Hong Kong's government has not explained any change to its policy despite multiple inquiries from media.

On the authoritarian Chinese mainland, where the press is heavily censored, foreign journalists must apply for specific visas and face routine harassment.

Reporters only need a regular business visa to work in Hong Kong, however.

China promised key liberties and autonomy to Hong Kong ahead of Britain's handover, and the city has free press protections enshrined in law, something that has helped it become a regional media hub.

Read also: UK Citizenship Path Available to Hong Kongers in 2021

The New York Times, AFP, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and the Financial Times are among multiple media organizations with regional headquarters there.

But multiple news outlets are now reporting issues getting or renewing visas for staff — something they have not experienced before.


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