Hong Kong reporters slam new clamp on access to information

January 11, 2013 - 5:33:40 am

Hong Kong: Journalists in Hong Kong yesterday slammed a government bid to restrict access to information about company directors, after a series of investigative reports into the hidden wealth of Chinese officials.

Under the proposals put forward by the financial services and treasury bureau, corporate directors could apply to have their residential address and full identity card or passport numbers blocked from public view.

Such information can presently be accessed with a small fee, and has been used by reporters to help unravel a web of secret assets showing the true wealth of China’s ruling elite and their families.

“We believe that the ability of foreign correspondents and journalists to legally access information about individuals and their companies is vital to our role of reporting on issues of public interest,” the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong said in a letter addressed to the city’s leader Leung Chun-ying.

“We call on the government to withdraw this amendment and to maintain its support for the free flow of information in Hong Kong.”

The former British colony, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, maintains a semi-autonomous status with guarantees of civil liberties — including press freedom — not seen on mainland China. AFP

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