The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) will do its best to remain in operation as long as possible, its chairman vowed on Tuesday, as he rejected accusations levelled against the group by the security secretary.
In an interview with the Ta Kung Pao newspaper, security minister Chris Tang claimed the HKJA has been "infiltrating schools" to recruit students as journalists.
"The HKJA advocates that anyone can be a reporter, even a 13-year-old student and people who aren't trained can be one. This deviates from people's expectation that journalists are professionally trained," Tang was quoted as saying.
He also reportedly said that the association's executive committee is drawn from certain, specific media outlets, as he questioned how representative it is.
But the association's chairman, Ronson Chan, said Tang's comments were wrong and regrettable.
Chan said the HKJA has fewer than 60 student reporters as members – amounting to only 13 percent of the total membership.
He added that it's difficult for reporters to take up the role of executive committee members because of pressure from their bosses and therefore current key members come from either independent media organisations or foreign news agencies.
A number of other civic organisations have disbanded in recent days following comments and warnings from Tang, but Chan noted that the Basic Law protects freedom of the press and said the HKJA would not give up without a fight.
"We will not dissolve easily and we will do our best to discharge our duty until the last moment," he said.
The HKJA said it would welcome a meeting with the security chief to exchange views, in the hope that he won't be affected by news reports that aren't true.