The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong has said that it is deeply concerned about the government’s decision not to renew a work visa for the Financial Times’ Asia News Editor Victor Mallet.
Mallet, who has over three decades of experience, is also the club’s vice-president. He chaired a talk by pro-independence activist Andy Chan at the FCC in August, which the office of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong tried to block. The Financial Times said they were not given a reason for the rejection.
Hours after the visa denial was revealed by HKFP on Friday, the club has called upon the authorities to rescind their decision saying it lacked any reasonable explanation: “The FCC is expecting a full explanation from the Hong Kong authorities for this extraordinary move, which is extremely rare, if not unprecedented,” it said in a statement.
The FCC was heavily criticised by the local government as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting the talk by the now-banned Hong Kong National Party chief. Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying compared the event to giving terrorists a platform.
Neither the Hong Kong government nor Immigration have clarified why Mallet was denied the visa, but lawmaker Starry Lee – of the pro-Beijing DAB party – said it was “normal procedure.”
Lawmaker Claudia Mo called the decision “vindictive” and harmful to Hong Kong’s reputation, as 24 democratic lawmakers signed a statement in protest.
— Yuen Chan (@xinwenxiaojie) October 5, 2018
The UK Foreign Office it was “concerned” by the rejection of Mallet’s visa renewal.
“We have asked the Hong Kong Government for an urgent explanation. Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and its press freedoms are central to its way of life, and must be fully respected,” a spokesperson said.
Reporters Without Borders urged the authorities to reverse their decision: “This is clearly a form of retaliation for his involvement in the public talk organized in August by FCCHK, which angered Beijing by featuring a pro-Hong Kong independence activist,” said Cédric Alviani, director of its East Asia Office.
President of PEN Hong Kong @jasonyng issues a statement in response to the Hong Kong government’s refusal to renew the visa for @FT corespondent Victor Mallet after he moderated a talk by pro-independence activist Andy Chan Ho-tin https://t.co/vAetTtYf5P
— PEN Hong Kong (@hongkongpen) October 5, 2018
The Civil Human Rights Front has said it will stage a demonstration at 11am on Saturday at Immigration Tower in Wan Chai.