Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday that visa issuance to foreign journalists is within the purview of the autonomy and discretion of the Hong Kong government.
Her remarks came after the Economist magazine said on Nov 12 that Hong Kong immigration authorities have declined to renew the employment visa of one of its reporters.
Meeting the press before the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said that it is always the discretion of the director of immigration to decide whether to grant or extend a visa or impose certain conditions on it, based on the circumstances of each case.
Lam said as the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, she was once denied a visa into the United States. That is also the autonomy and discretion of the US government, she said.
Lam noted that Hong Kong is a hub for many overseas media, with some of them using the city as a regional base in the Asia-Pacific region.
The government will continue to facilitate the operation and employment of foreign reporters in accordance with the SAR's policies and laws, including the National Security Law, she said.
Immigration Department's figures showed that as of April 2021, foreign media outlets in Hong Kong employ a total of 628 foreign nationals holding work visas, up by 18.5 percent from the same period last year. As for the Economist magazine in particular, the number of its foreign employees increased by 22 percent during the past year, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, citing the figures in a Monday press briefing in Beijing.
Zhao said since the implementation of the National Security Law in June 2020, the numbers of overseas media outlets and media practitioners coming to Hong Kong had both increased.
He hoped relevant sides will abide by press ethics and conduct Hong Kong-related reporting in an objective and just manner.