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Hong Kong journalists lose APEC press credentials

By Agencies in Bali, Indonesia | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-08 07:18

Officials at an APEC forum revoked the press credentials of a group of Hong Kong journalists who shouted questions to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III about his refusal to apologize for the killings of Hong Kong tourists in Manila three years ago.

Reporters from Now TV, Radio Television Hong Kong and Commercial Radio asked Aquino as he walked by them on Sunday at the regional meeting in Bali if he would meet Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying and apologize to the families of the victims.

"Will you apologize to Hong Kong people for their real tragedy?" a woman reporter asked, TV footage showed. "Will you give an answer? It has been three years," she said.

Aquino did not reply to their questions, but his spokesman said the journalists had "crossed the line" by aggressively questioning him about the hostage siege.

Now TV footage showed an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation staff member telling the reporters: "You ambushed one of our visitors."

Eight Hong Kong tourists and their guide were killed on a tourist bus by a dismissed Manila police officer in a daylong hostage crisis in 2010 that ended with a botched police rescue.

Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin on Monday urged the Philippine government to respect the requirements of the families of the victims of the Manila hostage-taking incident and put forward a proper solution as soon as possible.

Liu told a news conference that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Philippines should solve the problem through comprehensive communication and thorough negotiation.

"The central government will also extend its concerns to the Philippines through formal channels," said Liu.

Liu also encouraged Hong Kong media to communicate with APEC and the hosts, Indonesia, regarding the revocation of their credentials.

Gatot S. Dewabroto, a member of Indonesia's APEC Organizing Committee, said the credentials of nine Hong Kong journalists had been revoked for behavior that was "excessive, disrespectful and disturbing the event".

The journalists are allowed to remain in Bali but can no longer access the media center or venues being used for the APEC summit, Dewabroto said.

Aquino has expressed regret over the bloodshed but repeatedly said he considers the issue closed and that it was not appropriate for the Philippine government to apologize because the state was not responsible.

Sham Yee-lan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists' Association, said Aquino's government had "yet to provide a satisfactory explanation" for why the eight Hong Kong residents had died in a botched police rescue and that the journalists were doing their job.

"The barring of the media for asking critical questions is an outright infringement of press freedom that is totally unacceptable," she said in a statement.

Now TV said its journalists were "only engaged in normal reporting duties" and urged intervention from the Hong Kong government, which is one of APEC's 21 members. There was no immediate comment on the incident from Hong Kong's delegation at APEC.

AP-AFP-China Daily

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