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

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020   •   253

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)

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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)

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Hong Kong tightens coronavirus restrictions as new cases spike

UNTV News   •   July 20, 2020

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told a news conference on Sunday (July 19) that the city recorded more than 100 cases in the past 24 hours, the most since the pandemic took hold in late January, taking the tally close to 2,000 patients, 12 of whom have died.

“The situation is very serious and there is no sign of it coming under control,” Lam said.

Amusement parks, gyms and 10 other types of venues will remain closed for another seven days, while a requirement for restaurants to only provide takeaway after 6pm was extended. Face masks will be mandatory in indoor public areas. Non-essential civil servants were told to work from home from this week.

Earlier on Sunday, an event by pro-democracy politicians to mark the one-year anniversary of an attack in a train station by an armed mob was stopped by police in riot gear for breaking coronavirus measures already in place that restrict group gatherings to four people.

Police in riot gear halted an event and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd in the northern district of Yuen Long,

A small number of protesters marked the anniversary of chanting slogans in a shopping mall. (Reuters)

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U.S. will act to deny China access to Americans’ data, says Pompeo

UNTV News   •   July 14, 2020

The Trump administration will take steps to ensure the Chinese government does not gain any access to the private information of American citizens through telecommunications and social media, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday (July 8), when asked if the U.S. was planning to ban Chinese-owned app Tiktok.

Pompeo also praised U.S. technology giants Google, Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc for ‘refusing to surrender’ user data to the Hong Kong government and urged other companies to follow suit, after China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

Speaking two days after he said Washington was “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, Pompeo said the U.S. evaluation was not focused on a particular company but that it was a matter of national security.

“The comments that I made about a particular company earlier this week fall in the context of us evaluating the threat from the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said. He added that Washington was working to ensure that Beijing does not gain access to any private data or health records of Americans.

“So what you’ll see the administration do is take actions that preserve and protect that information and deny the Chinese Communist Party access to private information that belongs to Americans,” he said.

In his wide-ranging news conference, Pompeo also accused China of taking “incredibly aggressive action” in a recent clash with India over a disputed section of the nuclear-armed neighbors’ border, saying Beijing had a pattern of instigating territorial disputes.

On the night of June 15, Chinese forces and Indian troops fought for hours with rods and clubs, a dramatic escalation that left 20 Indian soldiers killed, with some falling to their deaths in the freezing waters of the Galwan river in the western Himalayas.

“The Chinese took incredibly aggressive action. The Indians have done their best to respond to that,” Pompeo said in a news conference at the State Department. “I’d put this in the context of General Secretary Xi Jinping and his behavior throughout the region, and indeed, throughout the world.”

His comments reflect the deep-running tensions between Washington and Beijing, which have been at loggerheads over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, China’s actions in the former British colony of Hong Kong and a nearly two-year trade dispute between the U.S. and China. (Reuters)

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