Following the widely reported Hong Kong police raid on the independent news outlet Stand News Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued swift condemnation on what's clearly an ongoing pro-China crackdown against any HK opposition media.
Blinken called on China's ruling Communist Party and local HK police to "cease targeting" the city's "free and independent media and to immediately release those journalists and media executives who have been unjustly detained and charged."
He further said that Hong Kong should return to its former status of promoting freedoms that allowed the city to "flourish as a global center for finance, trade, education, and culture," adding that "journalism is not sedition," according to Axios. "By silencing independent media, [China's government] and local authorities undermine Hong Kong's credibility and viability. A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press."
At least 200 police had raided Stand News on Wednesday, arresting at least six editors and journalists, forcing the opposition-sympathetic outlet to cease all publication. Two editors have been charged with "sedition" while others are still being held for questioning.
On Thursday the Associated Press confirmed that "Two former editors from a Hong Kong online pro-democracy news outlet were charged with sedition and denied bail Thursday, a day after one of the last openly critical voices in the city said it would cease operations following a police raid on its office and seven arrests."
The entire company is facing legal action: "According to a charge sheet, national security police filed one count each of conspiracy to publish a seditious publication against Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam, former editors at Stand News," AP details. "Police also said they would prosecute the company for sedition."
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam justified the police raid and the arrests, claiming that "inciting other people... could not be condoned under the guise of news reporting" - to describe the independent news outlet's supposed actions.
US-backed Taiwan was also quick to issue a message backing the detained news staff, with President Tsai Ing-wen saying that "Taiwan stands with Hong Kong" and against China's "crackdown on free speech."
Her public statement said, "The arrests of Stand News staff and singer Denise Ho are yet another example of the Beijing authorities' crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong. We in Taiwan regret to see their detention and call on the international community to stand up for freedom & democracy in HK."