Hong Kong online news outlet Initium announced it was relocating to Singapore on Tuesday citing fading press freedoms, the first local media outfit to quit the financial hub as authorities crack down on dissent.
The announcement came the same day that veteran broadcaster Steve Vines and Kacey Wong, one of the city’s best known political artists, also separately confirmed they had left Hong Kong because of declining freedoms.
“Over the past six years, the road to freedom has become tougher and more dangerous, the world is increasingly polarised and antagonistic,” Initium ’s Chief Editor Susie Wu wrote in an article commemorating the outlet’s sixth year anniversary.
She cited Hong Kong’s steady slide down annual press freedom ranking lists and the rise of “little pinks” — staunch nationalists — in mainland China.
Initium is a comparatively small Chinese-language outlet with some 60,000 paying subscribers. But its departure illustrates the concerns many media outlets have about their future in Hong Kong.
“We believe no matter where we are, as long as the freedom in our hearts is connected, we can create larger space for freedom,” Ms. Wu wrote.
China is currently remoulding Hong Kong in its own authoritarian image after huge and often violent democracy protests two years ago.
A sweeping national security law imposed last year has criminalised much dissent and authorities have embarked on a campaign to root out those deemed unpatriotic.
Many of the city’s most prominent pro-democracy activists have been arrested or jailed. Others have fled overseas.