After Beijing's operation shut down many independent publications in the area, Hong Kong dropped to the 148th position from 80th on this year's World Press Freedom Index.

The decline was the largest on the Reporters Without Borders list, which was announced on Tuesday. 

The coerced closure of the publication of the Apple Daily and Stand News, both of which were critical of the Communist Party in China, was noted by the organization.

Citizen News, another independent media website, shut down earlier this year.

The rank illustrates the challenging situations over the past year endured by the Hong Kong press, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

Under escalating authoritative pressure, the group allegedly pondered disbanding, urging present and future governments to guard the legally guaranteed rights of the citizens of Hong Kong.

Political influence, legislative contexts, and journalist safety are all aspects included in the Reporters Without Borders ranking. 

Norway topped the list once again this year, with China coming in at 175th out of 180 countries. Since its assault on Ukraine, Russia has fallen even further in suppressing independent media, falling to 155th place. 

Previously, the "one nation, two systems" framework had enabled Hong Kong a level of press freedom that was not allowed on the mainland. In 2002, the region was ranked 18th on the Press Freedom Index.

After China enforced security regulations on the territory in 2020, the climate deteriorated dramatically, with pro-democracy journalists detained and many journalists fleeing.

Hong Kong news organizations appear to be reverting to self-censorship in order to avoid the crackdown. Following Chinese authorities' warnings over the club's claims concerning press freedom, the country's Foreign Correspondents' Club abruptly stopped its yearly Human Rights Press Awards in April.

"Over the last two years, media organizations in Hong Kong have been working beneath new red lines on what is and is not allowed. However, there remain considerable areas of uncertainty, and we do not intend to unwittingly breach the law," the head of the organization remarked in a statement. 

Under John Lee, who is campaigning unchallenged for Hong Kong's next chief executive and is recognized for his hard-line stance on the media, the crackdown could intensify.

"We must be conscious that certain individuals may be using press freedom as a cover to do things that are illegal," Lee said in a previous televised conference, adding that while journalists' work should be honored, wrongs must be corrected when necessary.