Free speech in China : an analysis of press coverage of the Article 23 debate
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Alan KnightAlan Knight
Freedom of speech is much spoken about but less frequently practised. According to Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. “This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers,” the declaration said. In most countries there is a gap between the ideal of free speech and the reality. Perhaps nowhere is this gap so glaring than in mainland China, where despite contstitutional guarantees, all media are rigorously controlled by the Communist party. Yet China today also encompasses the Special Administrative Region (sar) of Hong Kong, a long-standing beacon of a free press in Asia. This paper examines the contradictions, political consequences, and implications for freedom of speech in both Hong Kong and China that arises from that unique and optimistic formula: one country, two systems. Free Speech Free speech may be expressed through the mass media, on the internet, in small publications or public demonstrations. Yet freedom of speech is a right, which exists through practice, in that it becomes a meaningless Soviet style slogan if citizens choose not to or are unable to use it.