Radio Station Forced Down After “Dangerous” Chinese Pressure

Due to what its creator called a “dangerous” political climate and the suspension of its bank account, pro-democracy Hong Kong internet radio station Citizens’ Radio broadcasted its farewell show on Friday and will discontinue operations.

The Cantonese-language broadcaster, founded in 2005 by veteran activist Tsang Kin-shing, garnered a steady following for its critical talk programs of the authorities and its years-long struggle for press freedom.

Many people feel this closure is a step backward for freedom of the press in Hong Kong.

Tsang said that politics in Hong Kong are on the verge of a dramatic shift. The red line is drawn everywhere, so they cannot talk freely even if they invite visitors to the program.

After massive protests for democracy in 2019 drove millions to the streets, authorities in the former British colony have cracked down and jailed over 250 campaigners under the national security code.

According to Tsang, Hang Seng Bank froze the bank account for his radio station for several reasons, including signature issues, preventing him from accepting donations or making withdrawals. 

The government of Hong Kong has often said that press freedom is a top priority and is protected by local legislation. The administration denies repressing dissent and blames 2019 protesters for endangering the stability on which the economic success of the financial center depends.

Although Citizens’ Radio submitted a broadcasting license application in 2005, it was never approved. It allegedly used an unlawful radio transmitter after installing FM transmitters atop the city’s famous Lion Rock mountain and subsequently being searched by the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA). 

In 2019, four guys in masks armed with bats and hammers broke through the station’s glass entrance. There were no detentions.

Since the station was internet-based and “not a sound broadcasting licensee” under telecommunications rules, OFCA declined to comment on the closure or deterioration of press freedom.

In September, Apple Daily and its tycoon creator, Jimmy Lai, would be the target of a national security prosecution. The maximum penalty is life in jail without parole.

Two former editors at the defunct Stand News are on trial for sedition, and a verdict is expected in October.

After being under British authority for 50 years, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” arrangement.