Journalism vs Imperialism: The Chinese Press and Censorship in British Hong Kong

Friday, 6 October 2023, 12:30pm (HKT) at CVA 1022 and on Zoom

Michael Ng presents highlights from his book, Political Censorship in British Hong Kong: Freedom of Expression and the Law (1842–1997), published in 2022 by Cambridge University Press. Drawing on archival materials, Ng challenges the widely accepted narrative that freedom of expression in Hong Kong is a legacy of British rule of law. Demonstrating that the press and the media were pervasively censored for much of the colonial period and only liberated at a very late stage of British rule, this book, complicates our understanding of how Hong Kong came to be a city that championed free speech by the late 1990s. With extensive use of primary sources, the free press, freedom of speech and judicial independence are all revealed to be products of Britain’s China strategy. Ng shows that, from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, Hong Kong’s history of freedoms was deeply affected by China’s relations with world powers. Demonstrating that Hong Kong’s freedoms drifted along waves of change in global politics, this book offers a new perspective on the British legal regime in Hong Kong.

MICHAEL NG is a legal historian focusing on the legal history of modern China and Hong Kong. Dr Ng also authored Legal Transplantation in Early 20th Century China: Practicing Law in Republican Beijing (1910s-1930s) (Routledge), and co-edited Civil Unrest and Governance in Hong Kong: Law and Order from Historical and Cultural Perspectives (Routledge). His works have appeared in leading journals such as Law and History Review, Modern Asian Studies, Law and Literature, Business History, International Journal of Asian Studies, among others. He has been appointed as visiting scholar of the University of Cambridge, University of Melbourne and the National University of Singapore, and visiting Associate Professor of National Taiwan University. He was the co-host of the History Talk Show of RTHK TV channel (五夜講場 – 歷史係咁話).

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Organised by Centre for Media and Communication Research, School of Communication