Asia - Pacific
Hong Kong
Index 2024
135/ 180
Score : 43.06
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
140/ 180
Score : 44.86
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
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Once a bastion of press freedom, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China has suffered an unprecedented series of setbacks since 2020, when Beijing adopted a National Security Law aimed at silencing independent voices. 

Media landscape

Hong Kong, a former British colony, had a vibrant media environment with hundreds of publications and over 15 TV channels. Since the 1997 handover to China, most media have fallen under the control of the government or pro-Chinese groups. In 2021, two major independent news outlets, Apple Daily and Stand News, were forced to shut down, while more than five other independent media outlets closed down for fear of reprisals. Since then, a handful of new, small-scale news outlets have been founded by some of the journalists who lost their jobs, and diaspora media outlets are establishing themselves around the world. 

Political context

The Hong Kong government takes orders directly from Beijing and openly supports its attempts at censorship and the dissemination of propaganda. Public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), previously renowned for its fearless investigations, has been placed under pro-government management, which does not hesitate to censor the programmes it dislikes.

Legal framework

Hong Kong’s Basic Law enshrines “freedom of speech, of the press and of publication”. But the National Security Law is used to gag independent voices in the name of combatting “terrorism”, “secession”, “subversion” and “collusion with foreign forces”. Due to its ambiguous phrasing, the law looks as though it could apply to any journalist covering Hong Kong, whether they reside in the territory or not. “Sedition” laws are also widely used against journalists.

Economic context

Most big media outlets are owned by pro-Beijing groups, and independent media owners are face political pressure. In 2021, the government froze the assets of Apple Daily and Stand News to force them to cease operations, thus causing the dismissal of 860 of their employees.

Sociocultural context

Journalists in Hong Kong are de facto separated into two groups: those who work for local Chinese-language media and those who work for English-language or international media. Journalists who work for independent or pro-democracy media are generally well-regarded by the public, while those who work for pro-Beijing newspapers or TV channels are viewed more negatively. 


Hong Kong was a very safe place for journalists until 2014, when those covering the Umbrella Movement were targeted by the police and pro-Beijing factions. During the 2019 protests, hundreds of journalists were victims of police violence, and were detained and indicted. A new wave of arrests began in 2021, when a dozen journalists were detained by the government on national security charges.