Foreign Policy Digital

In Hong Kong, the Freedom to Publish Is Under Attack

If the extradition law is eventually forced through the Hong Kong legislature, censorship of books will become commonplace in what has long been a bastion of publishing freedom.

For most of the world’s publishers, it would be very unusual for editors to take into account a country’s extradition laws before greenlighting a book. And yet, publishers and booksellers based in Hong Kong may well have to do so, due to a proposed new extradition policy that would have painful and chilling effects on the climate for free expression, press freedom, and the freedom to publish in the city.

Today, the future of the policy, which would allow those arrested in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China, stands on a knife’s edge: The bill has been so unpopular that it has been the target of a series of historically massive demonstrations, with of protesters taking to the streets. On June 15, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the bill was indefinitely suspended, but she has so to withdraw it entirely. The next few days may determine whether this bill lurches forward or dies entirely as protesters gear up for another round of demonstrations.

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