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Hong Kong Bashes Global Media With Hundreds of Complaint Letters

  • New leader John Lee authored missives calling out ‘nastiness’
  • City’s ranking in press freedom has plummeted in recent years
A government-sponsored advertisement promoting a new national security law in Hong Kong in June 2020. 
A government-sponsored advertisement promoting a new national security law in Hong Kong in June 2020. Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

From Slovakia to Japan, top Hong Kong officials have fired off at least 500 letters blasting critical foreign media coverage, as the city wages a global battle to safeguard its reputation as a liberal financial hub.

At least 174 media outlets in almost 30 countries received missives from city leaders -- including its now chief executive, John Lee -- since China announced in May 2020 that it would impose a national security law on the former British colony. The correspondence, often written both in English and the publication’s native language, was uploaded to the “Clarifications” tab of the government’s communications platform known as Brand Hong Kong.