National security law: Survey of Asia media organizations finds 95% are concerned about impact of legislation

Photo via Pexels/@goumbik
Photo via Pexels/@goumbik

The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) says a large majority of media organizations surveyed are concerned about the potential impact of Hong Kong’s looming national security law.

According to the results of the questionnaire published last Friday, 95% of the 40 respondents—which include publications operating in Hong Kong and across Asia—answered that they are “concerned” or “very concerned.”

Four in five respondents thought “the law would be harmful to their Hong Kong business operations,” while a third felt it would threaten the city’s judicial autonomy.

Majority also feared that data security may be at risk when the law passes. 55% said they would consider relocating their data operations, with Taiwan and Singapore found to be the leading choices.

SOPA is a Hong Kong-based, non-profit organization advocating press freedom in Asia. It counts Coconuts, as well as local media outlets including Apple Daily and Ming Pao, as among its members.

Read more: Majority of US firms concerned about national security law but no plans to relocate, survey finds

The national security legislation is one step closer to being imposed in Hong Kong following a meeting in Beijing’s top legislature late last week. The law will criminalize seditious activity, foreign interference, terrorism, and subversion against the central government.

Offenders may be detained and interrogated in “special holding centers” detention, instead of at police stations after being arrested.

Many in the city have decried Beijing’s implementation of the controversial law as a violation of the “one country, two systems” framework that governs Hong Kong—it will not be subject to consultation among the city’s lawmakers. Officials have thrown their full support behind the law and repeatedly assured critics that it will have no affect on the territory’s freedom and autonomy, despite admitting that they are not privy to the details of the legislation.

The full draft of the law will only be made public after it is passed by China’s top legislative body, sources say.

Lawmakers in Beijing will meet again at the end of this week and could pass the law as early as June 30, a day before the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to mainland China.

Last week, a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Journalists Association found that an overwhelming majority of local reporters disapprove of the legislation.

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