Hong Kong residents worry about online freedom of expression amid new law

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020   •   351

Hong Kong residents said on Tuesday (July 7) that they believe fear is spreading over freedom of expression online and expressed worries that some social media platforms may simply become unavailable amid a new sweeping national security law in the semi-autonomous city.

It comes as Facebook Inc, Google Inc and Twitter Inc said that they had suspended processing of government requests for user data in Hong Kong on Monday (July 6).

China’s parliament passed the national security legislation last week, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

Despite the tech companies’ announcement, resident Yan Pat-to, 45, said he believes authorities will find other ways to access users’ data.

“I think the worry or the fear is already spread over Hong Kong about the cyber expression of the freedoms here,” he said.

Tech companies have long operated freely in Hong Kong, a regional financial hub where internet access has been unaffected by the firewall imposed in mainland China, which blocks Google, Twitter and Facebook.

In addition to the announcements by the U.S tech giants, TikTok, the short-form video app owned by China-based ByteDance, said it would pull out of the Hong Kong market within days. (Reuters)

(Production: Yoyo Chow)

Hong Kong to take off masks in public, reopen cinemas starting August 28

Marje Pelayo   •   August 26, 2020

Starting August 28, the government of Hong Kong will ease several social distancing measures in relation to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to Secretary for Food & Health, Professor Sophia Chan.

“Under the new normal, it is almost not possible for us to wait until there are no more local cases before relaxing the social distancing measures,” the official said in a media briefing on Tuesday (August 25).

Chan said unless there are drastic changes to the epidemic situation, the government would issue new directions before Friday specifically the following:

(1) Extend the dine-in services allowed to 9 pm; 

(2) Allow re-opening of scheduled premises including cinemas, beauty parlours and also some outdoor sports premises for activities involving little physical contact; and 

(3) Allow people not to wear masks in country parks and while doing exercise.

Prof. Chan reminded the public, however, that while the number of daily new cases has been gradually declining, the epidemic situation still has not completely stabilized.

Thus, she advised Hong Kong nationals not to be complacent and maintain good personal and environmental hygiene.

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Researchers detected first COVID-19 reinfection in Hong Kong

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 25, 2020

Several experts have confirmed the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reinfection in Hong Kong.

Based on the report, the 33-year-old patient got infected with COVID-19 in Hong Kong and recovered last April. However, he again tested positive for the virus mid-August after traveling to Spain and the United Kingdom.

Experts say he got infected with two different strains of the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the exact immune response time of a recovered COVID-19 patient is yet to be determined.

“What we are learning about infection is that people do develop an immune response and what is not completely clear yet is how strong that immune response is and for how long that immune response lasts,” according to WHO Health Emergencies Program Technical Lead Maria Van Kerhove.

However, the Department of Health (DOH) said they are still reviewing the reinfection situation.

Tinitignan po natin at minamapa natin ang (We’re still looking into and mapping out the) international experiences, so that we can have appropriate evidence and we can give you accurate information,” DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

The DOH is also reviewing the cases of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, and that of Dr. Karen Senen who recently succumbed to COVID-19.

The Health Department reiterates the importance of following minimum health standards to prevent the spread of the virus. -AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

UK to suspend Hong Kong extradition treaty amid China tensions

UNTV News   •   July 21, 2020

Britain announced on Monday (July 20) it will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in an escalation of its dispute with China over the introduction of a national security law for the former British colony.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told parliament the extradition treaty will be suspended immediately and an arms embargo will be extended to Hong Kong.

“We will not consider reactivating those arrangements, unless and until, there are clear and robust safeguards, which are able to prevent extradition from the UK being misused under the new national security legislation,” Raab said.

The ban is another nail in the coffin of what then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015 cast as a “golden era” of ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy.

London has been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and the perception that China did not tell the whole truth over the coronavirus outbreak.

Australia and Canada suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong earlier this month. (Reuters)

(Production: Lucy Marks, Marissa Davison)

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