Press freedom in Hong Kong

Interactions between state, media and society

Authored by: Francis L.F. Lee

Routledge Handbook of Chinese Media

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415520775
eBook ISBN: 9781315758350
Adobe ISBN: 9781317635925


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Globalisation, commercialisation and the popularity of social media have made it far more difficult for autocratic regimes to maintain control of communication. How can an authoritarian state control the press under such challenging and transformative conditions? How can the state contain the society’s aspirations for political and communication freedom without resorting to violence and coercion? From the perspective of civil society, how can political and communication freedoms be protected or promoted? These questions are pertinent for media scholars researching political communications in East Asia, particularly China (e.g. Lee et al. 2007: 21–42; Zhao 2008), Singapore (e.g. George 2012) and the focus of this chapter, Hong Kong. Yet Hong Kong is unique in that it does not involve a hitherto docile media system or society struggling for more freedom (as in China and Singapore). Rather, Hong Kong is characterised by a largely free and somewhat daring media system and society being ‘returned’ to an authoritarian regime. The Hong Kong case thus has the potential to add significantly to our understanding of the politics of communication freedom and control.

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