Hong Kong: iconic radio station forced to cease operations

As the iconic radio station, Citizens' Radio, ceases its operations after nearly two decades of harassment, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Hong Kong government to end its repressive policies against independent media.

The founder of Hong Kong independent station Citizens’ Radio, Tsang Kin-shing, recently announced that his media outlet would cease its operations on Friday, 30 June, as its bank had been refusing to register donations on the station’s bank account for nearly a year, presumably due to the government’s pressure. Citizens' Radio, launched in 2005, was famous for broadcasting political debates, commentaries, and interviews, some of them hosted by high-profile pro-democracy figures.

“For nearly two decades, Citizens’ Radio has been an emblematic contributor to Hong Kong’s independent broadcasting landscape and its shutdown will cause an irreplaceable loss. We urge the government to stop its policy of harassment against independent media outlets, which have already significantly damaged the territory's international image since the enactment of the National Security Law.

Cédric Alviani
RSF East Asia Bureau Director

Since its creation, the media was forced to operate as a “pirate radio” as its license applications were consistently denied, and was subjected to permanent harassment from authorities as well as pro-Beijing supporters. In 2009, the radio station was accused of “illegal broadcasting”, and in May 2016, the station's office was raided by the authorities for the same reason. In 2019, the radio’s premises were invaded by four masked men who destroyed part of its equipment with bats and hammers in front of the staff.

Over the past three years, the Hong Kong government, in line with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s crusade against journalism, has forcibly shut down independent daily newspapers Apple Daily and Stand News, while five other media outlets had no other choice but to disband due to pressure. The government also prosecuted at least 28 journalists and press freedom defenders, 13 of whom remain in detention.

The special administrative region of Hong Kong ranks 140th out of 180 in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index, having plummeted down from 18th place in the span of two decades. China itself ranks 179th out of 180 countries and territories evaluated.