MIRANDA PAK WRITES — The bad news just keeps flowing for Hong Kong’s media. Recently, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government (LOCPG) has taken control of Sino United Publishing Limited.  This publishing company owns Joint Publishing HK, Chung Hwa Book Co., and the Commercial Press, which are the three major bookstore chains in Hong Kong.

The LOCPG already owns many Chinese-language media, such as the Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao and Hong Kong Commercial Daily newspapers and also the online Orange News. Gaining control of Sino United Publishing Limited gives LOCPG control over eighty percent of the publishing industry in Hong Kong.

This change has led to many problems.

The media has reported that the three booksellers that are owned by the chain were banned from selling anything associated with “Hong Kong Independence”.

Wu Yisan, Hong Kong independent book publisher and current affairs commentator, said that the LOCPG probably did this to tighten its control on Hong Kong and Hong Kong’s freedom of expression and of publication.

Another reason for this change could be to decrease the chances of government documents leaking.

Gao Yu, a 71-year-old Chinese journalist, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for leaking a government document. It stated that Yu leaked a 2013 directive by the ruling Communist party called “Document Number 9” to a Hong Kong media outlet. This document’s content focused on the dangers of free press.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time Yu has been jailed for “leaking state secrets.” She was also jailed in the 1990s for six years for her political writings.

It’s difficult for the press to report on what’s really happening when there’s a watchdog breathing down the  media’s neck.