Hong Kong''s public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, has warned its staff not to refer to Taiwan as a country. An internal memo tells reporters to exercise, quote "a high degree of caution" when reporting on Taiwan. It says Tsai Ing-wen should be referred to as a "leader" and not a "president." Terms like "country" and "the R.O.C." are to be avoided. Taiwan lawmakers say the memo reflects the fact that Hong Kong has lost the autonomy promised by China under the "one country, two systems" framework.

Hong Kong newscaster (July 1)
Speaking at the Centenary celebrations of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping touched on issues pertaining to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. He said China would thoroughly implement “one country, two systems,” adding that Hong Kongers would govern Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. Meanwhile, he said Beijing would adhere to the “1992 Consensus” and defeat any attempt at “Taiwan independence."

On the CCP’s anniversary on July 1, Hong Kong media gave wide coverage to Xi Jinping’s speech, noting that he spoke of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan in the same breath as he called for adherence to the “One China” principle. According to a recent report, Hong Kong’s public broadcaster has sent a memo to staff, instructing them to be careful with their language, avoiding anything that might suggest that Taiwan is a sovereign state.

For instance, President Tsai Ing-wen was to be referred to as the “leader of the Taiwan area.” Terms such as “national,” “the R.O.C.” or “Executive Yuan” were to be rephrased to indicate a status as local administrative agencies.

Chao Tien-lin
DPP lawmaker
It once again goes to show that “one country, two systems” is dead in Hong Kong. Words such as “Republic of China” or “national” are seen as infringing on China’s “One China” principle. Previously, there weren’t any restrictions on using these terms.

Hong Kong newscaster (June 2020)
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen gave a speech via teleconference at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit.

Even last year, Hong Kong media outlets were referring to Tsai as the president of Taiwan. Now such terms are likely to become exceptions to the rule. Reports say the new Taiwan guidelines at Radio Television Hong Kong are in response to complaints filed against a reporter who had previously referred to Tsai as Taiwan’s president. Presumably to guard against further complaints, reporters are being asked to exercise “a high level of caution” when it comes to Taiwan.

Chao Tien-lin
DPP lawmaker
Whether we’re talking freedom of the press or freedom of speech, Hong Kong is being further restricted. We want to express our sympathy and empathy for the Hong Kong people. We also have a message for the Beijing authorities: Such an approach will completely erase any market for the “one country, two systems” framework that’s ever existed globally or across the strait. As Taiwan considers its future, it is useful to look at Hong Kong’s present.

On the CCP’s anniversary on July 1, all Hong Kong newspapers had carried warm congratulations for Beijing. Today, the vast majority of Hong Kong media have become a mouthpiece for the state. China’s crackdown on Hong Kong media testifies once again that “one country, two systems” is dead.