Hong Kong university waives World Press Photo exhibition

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Hong Kong | A Hong Kong university withdrew from a World Press Photo exhibition on Friday, a few days before it opened, citing health and safety reasons.

Baptist University’s decision comes as Beijing and local authorities have taken over the semi-autonomous territory.

The World Press is a photojournalism competition that annually rewards the best photos taken across the planet.

AFP photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba won this prestigious competition in 2020 for an image of a young man reciting a poem among protesters calling for civilian rule in Khartoum, Sudan.

Photos of the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, taken by AFP photographer Nicolas Asfouri and also awarded, were to be exhibited.

“After taking into account the security of the campus and the need to maintain control of the pandemic, the Basptist University of Hong Kong considers that the time is not right to organize the World Press 2020 exhibition on its campus”, the university said in a brief statement.

She did not say what the nature of these security concerns was.

This is not the first time that a World Press Photo exhibition has encountered difficulties in the semi-autonomous territories of Hong Kong and Macao.

In October, an annual World Press Photo exhibit showing images of the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong was closed in Macau without explanation.

Until then, this exhibition had been held every year since 2008 without any problem in the former Portuguese colony.

Former colonies, Macau and Hong Kong were able to benefit from freedoms unknown in mainland China when they were returned to that country. But many fear that these are disappearing as Beijing tightens its grip.