BBC Chinese reported on its website that the Hong Kong Journalist Association (HKJA) had concerns that press freedom in Hong Kong will be further compromised when China’s Internet giant Alibaba takes control of the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
In a public letter to SCMP readers, Joseph Tsai, Alibaba’s Executive Vice-chairman, noted SCMP‘s unique strength is its focus on China. It draws attention from anyone who hopes to know about China, which is the number two economy in the world.
Tsai refuted questions about editorial independence after Alibaba’s acquisition of SCMP. He claimed that such a question itself demonstrates bias. He stressed that China’s economic rise and its role in stabilizing the world is too important to be covered by a single point of view. In a subsequent media interview, Tsai went on to say that he wants SCMP to "spread" a different angle about China, "The current news coverage of China is neither complete nor healthy because all of the media carry the western angle. That is one of many angles. I hope that we can use another angle — a more objective angle — to study China."
The HKJA noted that a professional media should employ the universal values of human rights, equality, and the rule of law in its reporting on any country. It raised the concern that Tsai’s talk of "a different angle about China" may foreshadow further restrictions on SCMP’s reporting on China and further compromise press freedom in Hong Kong. In his interview, Tsai also outlined plans to change SCMP‘s paid online content so that it would be freely accessible.
Sources: BBC Chinese website, December 11, 2015
SCMP Chinese website, December 11, 2015