Published: 11:09, June 22, 2024 | Updated: 18:03, June 22, 2024
HKSAR govt condemns 'misleading' Radio Free Asia report
By Wang Zhan
This Oct 26, 2023, photo shows service seekers in the lobby of the Immigration Tower, with a notice reading, “No walk-in quota for identity card applications", in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. (SHAMIM ASHRAF / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has strongly disapproved of and condemned a Radio Free Asia report with a misleading headline, which it said made untruthful and smearing remarks against the invalidation exercise of the old-form smart identity cards.

Headlined “Hong Kong SAR government 'threatens' citizens to return to Hong Kong and renew their old ID cards - Will there be consequences for overseas Hong Kong residents failing to replace their ID cards?”, the article was written with the intention to mislead the public and defame the relevant measures and arrangements announced by the SAR government and the Immigration Department, the government said in a statement issued on Friday night.

The June 20 article selectively quoted phrases made by the Immigration Department at its press conference, thus falsely reporting and maliciously distorting the original purpose of the ID card invalidation exercise, the statement added.

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Radio Free Asia not only cited comments from a purported former immigration assistant claiming to be an insider and misinterpreted relevant legal provisions and legal consequences, but also did not make any inquiries with the government prior to publishing the article or conduct any fact checking, said the government.

Radio Free Asia's deliberate distortion on the government's appeal into means of intimidating the public was an extremely irresponsible act.


“Radio Free Asia has completely violated media professional ethics and basic journalistic morality.”

The invalidation of old ID cards aimed to detect the impersonation and possession of forged cards, the government said, adding that the arrangements were in line with the previous replacement exercise, which does not involve any form of intimidation whatsoever.

According to the Registration of Persons Ordinance, any person who fails to replace their ID card during the specified call-up period without a reasonable excuse is liable to a fine of HK$5,000.

“Those who have been absent from Hong Kong during the replacement period will not commit an offense as long as they replace their ID cards within 30 days of their return to Hong Kong,” the government added.

At its June 18 press conference, the Immigration Department clearly set out that the invalidation of old ID cards won’t affect one's right of abode in the city and a person could still travel in and out of the city as long as they hold a valid travel document.

“Radio Free Asia's deliberate distortion on the government's appeal into means of intimidating the public was an extremely irresponsible act,” reads the government statement.

Any person who enters Hong Kong with an invalid ID card will have to surrender their card and be ordered to apply for renewal within a specified period of time. Under the Registration of Persons Regulations, failure to comply with the order to apply for renewal may result in a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and two years' imprisonment.

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Without proper verification of facts, the report misled members of the public by conflating the two provisions and relevant legal consequences, the government said, adding that Radio Free Asia disregarded journalistic ethics and distorted the HKSAR government's policies and measures in an utterly irresponsible manner.

“The government's good intent in appealing public members for ID card replacement has been manipulated into a conspiracy to suppress Hong Kong people,” the government said, terming the report as a piece of scaremongering, fake information smearing the SAR government.

Condemning the report strongly, it urged members of the public to ignore false information and discern the facts.