Radio Free Asia (RFA) and its online affiliate WHYNOT were announced as winners of the 25th annual Hong Kong-based Human Rights Free Press Awards. RFA’s Mandarin Service reporter Amelia Hei Loi earned the top prize in the audio category for her series on the tensions between the Vatican and Beijing over-regulation of the appointment of Chinese bishops. WHYNOT contributor Jieping Zhang won in the commentary writing category for her essay The truth isn’t dead: You just don’t believe it anymore.
“We are extremely proud of our journalists for their timely coverage and commentary on the struggle for human rights in Hong Kong and China,” said RFA President Bay Fang. “This recognition is a testament to our incisive brand of journalism, which is more crucial than ever in providing real, unbiased information to authoritarian countries that censor their own citizens and the news they receive. With these awards, we are reminded of the important responsibility we bear over 25 years of bringing free press to closed societies.”
RFA Mandarin’s series on the push and pull between the Vatican and Beijing over bishop appointments followed developments in the lead-up to the renewal of an agreement between the two sides in October 2020. Explaining the complex dynamics of relations between the two parties, the series touched on the surprise resignation of the Bishop of Fujian province, implications of the developments for the Catholic church in Hong Kong, and the impact that the Vatican’s cooperation with Beijing has on Chinese Christians.
In her commentary for WHYNOT The truth isn’t dead: You just don’t believe it anymore, contributing writer Jieping Zhang traces the history of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) recent efforts to discredit independent thinkers like popular Weibo users and bloggers, the upgrade of CCP censorship efforts for a new information age, and the implications of disinformation for a Hong Kong increasingly under Beijing’s thumb. Her argument urges readers against the temptation to give into despair as forces of misinformation aim to discredit fact-based reporting and journalism– one of the pillars of democracy and a source of oversight seen as threatening by authoritarian regimes the world over.
Other winners in this year’s competition included pieces submitted from Reuters, Rappler, and Apple Daily, among others. The Hong Kong Human Rights Awards are organized each year by the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong, Amnesty International and the Hong Kong Journalists Association. The stated goal of the awards is to increase respect for people’s basic rights and to focus attention on threats to those freedoms.
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