Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Free Speech and the Press in China: An Analysis of Press Coverage of the Article 23 Debate

Prof. Alan Knight.

The paper explores free speech by considering what is said about it and who is privileged by being quoted about it.

It does so by examining Beijing, Hong Kong and international reportage of free speech issues related to the Special Administrative Region’s Article 23 security legislation. The bill, which may have seriously curtailed civil liberties including press freedoms, provoked a half million strong demonstration in the SAR. A comparative analysis of this coverage not only reveals contemporary Chinese attitudes to free speech, but also illuminates what may not be reported by the different press systems.

This study begins on 24 September 2002, when Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, announced new security measures derived from Article 23 of the Special Administrative Region’s Basic Law. It concludes on September 5, when Mr Tung announced the with drawl of the legislation. It examines 643 items, including Hong Kong, Beijing and international press reports, submissions by lobby groups, official statements and transcripts of speeches. Given the huge variety and number of reports and commentaries published, it seeks to be comprehensive rather than conclusive in its scope.


Prof. Alan Knight  (Australia)
Professor of Journalism
Central Queensland University

Dr Alan Knight is Chair Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Central Queensland University and President of CQU’s Academic Board. Together with Dr Yoshiko Nakano, he authored Reporting Hong Kong: How the foreign press covered the handover (London: Curzon Press, 1999). He also wrote Reporting the Orient : Australian correspondents in Cambodia (Chicago: Xlibris 2001).

Dr Knight is a former journalist, was appointed an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Asian Studies at Hong Kong University in 1994.

  • free speech
  • journalism
  • China
  • International news

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)