An investigative journalism website based in Hong Kong has vowed to ignore an anonymous threat of "trouble" following a report published in July about faulty trains made across the internal border in mainland China.
Independent news service FactWire said it would stand its ground in spite of "possible reprisals."
"[Our] investigation reports are not meant to target any particular party," the organization said in a statement after it reported on faults in trains bought to run on Hong Kong's subway network from a Chinese company.
"We have a duty to tell the truth," it said.
On July 21, FactWire received an anonymous message which read: "The subway train story has caused a big reaction, some trouble heading your way."
FactWire said an unidentified individual had been seen outside its offices in the former British colony, which was promised the continuation of its existing freedoms under the terms of the 1997 handover to China.
The news organization said it has since stepped up security measures and reminded its reporters to be vigilant.
Under the terms of the handover and the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, China has promised to allow Hong Kong to continue with its existing way of life until 2047.
The "one country, two systems" policy pledged to allow the city to continue as a separate jurisdiction for law enforcement and immigration purposes, and with wide-ranging freedoms of expression and association.
But the cross-border detentions last year of five Hong Kong booksellers and the jailing of two veteran journalists accused of selling "banned publications" to customers across the internal border in tightly controlled mainland China have rocked the once-freewheeling city.
Hong Kong political affairs commentator Lai Chak Fun said FactWire's investigation, which found that trains similar to those used in Hong Kong had been secretly recalled by the manufacturer from Singapore, likely cost someone a large sum of money.
"The figures involved are very large, in the hundreds of millions, and the Singapore contract will probably have an impact on the fortunes of the entire company," Lai told RFA.
"They are afraid there could be another report, so they are trying to warn them off," he said.
‘Shut the media up’
Political commentator Poon Siu-to said the more outspoken members of the Hong Kong media have already suffered a strong of violent attacks in recent year.
"They want to shut the media up," Poon said. "There have been so many holes blasted in press freedom [in Hong Kong], and the people who ultimately lose out the most are its citizens."
"If the media don't uncover things, then the public loses the right to information," he said. "Even worse, everyone is still riding those trains every day."
"We don't know when this time bomb will go off, nor how many people could be killed or injured," Poon said.
Last month, a court in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen jailed two veteran Hong Kong journalists after they sent their political magazines to subscribers in mainland China.
Wang Jianmin was sentenced by Shenzhen's Nanshan District People's court to five years and three months' imprisonment.
Fellow defendant Guo Zhongxiao, a former editor at the weekly news magazine Asiaweek, was jailed for two years and three months.
Both men, who pleaded guilty at their trial last November, had edited and published New-Way Monthly and Multiple Face magazines, which were published in Hong Kong, but had some subscribers in mainland China.
China's "one country, two systems" policy for Hong Kong pledged to allow the city to continue as a separate jurisdiction for law enforcement and immigration purposes, and with wide-ranging freedoms of expression and association.
But the detention of Causeway Bay Books publisher Gui Minhai at his Thai holiday home last October, followed by the detentions of four of his colleagues, prompted a public outcry.
The U.K. government has said in an official report that bookseller Lee Bo, who holds a British passport, was "involuntarily removed" from the city.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) last month called on the city's government to do much more to protect press freedom, citing a "grave threat" to its traditional freedoms of expression and association.
Reported by Ho Shan for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.