A remarkable Hong Kong media story

Feb 24, 2024
Hong Kong Map Books

In Hong Kong, a vibrant Chinese media-oasis is forming within the vast territory long staked-out by the exceptionally dominant Mainstream Western Media.

Caitlin Johnstone has steadily become one of the most lucid and compelling, short-form-writers in English focused on contemporary geopolitics. Johnstone is better than most at observing relevant pith and substance that escapes commentary in the Mainstream Western Media (MWM), often wilfully. Her recent work helped inform this reflection on certain intriguing media developments in Hong Kong.

Johnstone lately noted that:

“One under-appreciated moment from Tucker Carlson’s recent interview with Vladimir Putin came after Putin implied that NATO powers were behind the 2022 bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline. Carlson responded by asking why Putin wouldn’t present evidence of this to the world, so as to win a propaganda victory. In the war of propaganda it is very difficult to defeat the United States because the United States controls all the world’s media and many European media, Putin replied”.

Johnstone followed this with an apt joke from days-gone-by:

“A Soviet and an American are on an airplane seated next to each other. Why are you flying to the US? asks the American. To study American propaganda, replies the Soviet. What American propaganda? asks the American. Exactly, the Soviet replies.”

An autonomous media domain

Reading this helped sharpen my understanding of the development, over the last several years, of a number of engaging Hong Kong on-line media outlets, operating predominantly in Cantonese, which generally favour China. Putin’s claim that the US-led Global West still enjoys an overwhelming MWM advantage, worldwide is candid and convincing. The Chinese speaking world remains, however, far more immersed within communication platforms operating in spoken and written Chinese. In this media zone, English-based MWM outlets are no longer centrally influential: they operate around the margins, including in Hong Kong.

The Chinese language dominance on these Hong Kong Web-outlets, in effect, defangs much of the influence of the MWM. Moreover, this remains the case for the significant, English-bilingual segment of those using Chinese as a first language; watching and listening in that first language is often fundamentally preferred.

Who are these newscasters

Some of these programmes began running around a decade ago. But the majority have flourished in the several years since 2020, once Hong Kong’s uncommonly safe living environment had been restored. This restoration of stability followed the radical winding back of the multi-month insurrection that began in June, 2019, which insurgency spun off from a series of very large peaceful protest marches.

There are a number of solo-presenters (who sometimes conduct interviews) and some regular, absorbing discussion groups. There is only space here to list a few (named below using Cantonese-pinyin). In each case a relevant link to a recent presentation (in Cantonese) is provided.

A sizeable number of operatives have come to these web-based presentations with significant media experience. Other, younger presenters are more self-trained – though the best exhibit natural on-camera communication skills.

A characteristic of many presenters is the consistent level of intelligent hard work put into research and on-camera preparation. It is also plain that most are (bilingually) very widely read. They review much relevant coverage in the MWM – and well beyond (including Pearls and Irritations. And they are typically rigorous – within their own perspectives – in developing primary arguments. Some websites offer a written transcript, which can be translated into English using the Google-translate option.

Probably the leading newscaster and discussant is the conspicuously able, Mr Lo, Wing-hung, who brings a wealth of media experience spanning several decades (especially with the Sing Tao media group) to his astute web-broadcasts. Occasionally he writes up certain presentations in English – see, “What if all these were to happen in the US?”. His web-operation, known in English as Bastille Post, hosts a range of experienced presenters, including Ms Idy Lee, Tung.

A younger generation presenter is Ms Joephy Chan, Wing-yan. Chan is a member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. She has a natural, lively on-screen style and knows where she stands. She is fluently bilingual but normally presents in Cantonese.

A widely experienced television journalist now presenting regularly at a popular Web-based outlet is Ms Chris Wat, Wing-yin.

Another fast-learning comparative newcomer with an engaging on-camera presence is Ms Chow, Kitying.

What is discussed

The breadth of topics covered by these online outlets is very wide and includes: general geopolitics; regional geopolitics; geoeconomics; military-geopolitics; local politics, current affairs and policy development. Plus, there are telling responses to various florid examples emerging from the continuous, wondrously inflated China Threat narrative.

There is also detailed and lively coverage of what is happening in China. One just needs to think about this for a moment to understand the possibilities: China is bigger than the US in area and has four times the population, with one of the most stunningly varied landscapes on earth. There are literally millions of stories to be told, most of which are never related within the MWM – and if they are, they are typically re-shaped to denigrate China.

Why is it working

The talented hard work that goes into preparation and presentation has already been highlighted. Even more arresting is the way these media operatives regularly offer fresh perspectives across a wide range of issues. You may not agree with these views – but they get you thinking.

Recent coverage of a recent Putin-interview provides one example. The panel of commentators noted how President Putin was quite constructive in his comments about President Biden. Which led to some to ask if this may have reflected Putin’s understanding that anything that might be cast as an endorsement by the Russian President could be seen as a political “kiss of death” in this America Presidential Election year.

Pro-Beijing vs Pro-Washington

When you look-up these media-folk online, in English, you find they are often disparagingly, characterised as pro-China. They certainly favour a positive view of China and Hong Kong, so it is right to say that they are Sino-friendly. But let’s add some context. We need to remember that the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post and so many others like-minded are all robustly pro American global superiority and pro White House. And brazenly so when they repeatedly disparage others for daring to favour: China, Russia, Iran, Palestine – take your pick.


The regular audience finds these presentations topical and stimulating on a continuing basis. Different viewers, naturally, have varied responses to what these presenters argue. Some will disagree strongly on political grounds and others based on the substance of particular arguments.

Meanwhile, these presenters typically reflect that embedded, positive view of the future embraced by China today – a constructive perspective that is now far harder to locate across the Global West. They know what they think – and why – so they mean what they say. In fact, this growing group of online Cantonese commentators has created a vibrant Chinese media-oasis within the vast territory long staked-out by the exceptionally dominant MWM. And there is little that the MWM can do in response- ham-strung as it is by its own unbending meta-narratives.

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