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Hong Kong police arrest 5 trade union members for sedition

Hong Kong police arrest 5 trade union members for sedition

Hong Kong police have arrested five trade union members over children’s books they described as seditious and a court has denied bail for four editors and journalists held on charges of endangering national securityBy ZEN SOO Associated PressJuly 22, 2021, 9:30 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleHONG KONG — Hong Kong police on Thursday arrested five trade union members over children’s books they described as seditious, and a court denied bail for four editors and journalists held on charges of endangering national security, as part of a widening crackdown on dissent in the city.The five who were arrested are members of the General Association of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, according to local media reports.The association published three children’s books that Li Kwai-wah, a senior superintendent of the national security department, said have seditious intent.The books feature stories that revolve around a village of sheep that has to deal with wolves from a different village. The sheep take action like going on strike or escaping by boat, according to the synopses published on the association’s website.Li said that the stories referenced the 12 Hong Kong activists who were arrested at sea while trying to flee the city, after most of them were charged in connection with massive anti-government protests in 2019. There was also a story about wolves who are “cruel and try to occupy the area” where the sheep live, and try to kill them, Li said.The 2019 rallies calling for more civil rights and universal suffrage shook Hong Kong for months, often descending into violence between police and protesters. Beijing responded last year with a sweeping national security law that critics say restricts freedoms promised to the former British colony that are not found on mainland China.The publishing of such books “brings hatred against the government and administration of justice, and (incites) violence to others,” Li said. He added that the books targeted children between the ages of 4 and 7.Police said that also froze 160,000 Hong Kong dollars ($20,600) in assets linked to the union.On Thursday, a Hong Kong court denied bail to four top editors and journalists from the now-defunct Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper. They were arrested Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to collude with foreign powers to endanger national security.So far, eight former employees have been arrested. Apply Daily ceased operations in June after $2.3 million in assets were frozen and police raided the newspaper’s offices, confiscating hard drives and laptops.The national security law criminalizes secessionism, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion in the city’s affairs. Since it was implemented, more than 100 pro-democracy supporters have been arrested and many others have fled abroad.

China fines tech giants for content exploiting children

China fines tech giants for content exploiting children

China’s internet watchdog says it has fined technology platforms operated by e-commerce company Alibaba and gaming firm Tencent for spreading sexually suggestive content involving children, as regulators seek to clean up content harmful to minorsBy ZEN SOO Associated PressJuly 21, 2021, 9:44 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleHONG KONG — China’s internet watchdog said Wednesday it has fined platforms operated by e-commerce company Alibaba and gaming firm Tencent for spreading sexually suggestive content involving children, as regulators seek to clean up content harmful to minors.Platforms including Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplace Taobao, Tencent’s QQ messaging service, live-streaming site Kuaishou, microblogging platform Sina Weibo and social media and e-commerce service Xiaohongshu were fined for distributing sexually suggestive stickers or short videos of children, it said.The companies were ordered to rectify the issue and ban accounts that use such content to attract more traffic.The crackdown on inappropriate content involving minors comes as the government ramps up scrutiny of technology platforms in the country. Regulators are investigating Chinese technology companies over a range of issues, including anti-competitive practices and data practices.“With regards to the infringement of the legal rights and interests of minors, a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude will be adopted and enforced to clean up the online problems that endanger the physical and mental health of minors,” the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement.In recent months, some Chinese media outlets have called out sexually suggestive photos of children used by certain stores on platforms such as Taobao and Xiaohongshu to sell clothing, as well as suggestive stickers of children on messaging apps.The internet regulator said its campaign includes the targeting of minors on live-streaming platforms, pornographic and violent content in courses on online education platforms and animations with violent or inappropriate horror themes.Earlier this month, the regulator said it would probe ride-hailing company Didi Global Inc. over data security concerns. Alibaba in April was also fined $2.8 billion following an anti-monopoly probe, and food delivery giant Meituan is being investigated over alleged antitrust practices.The internet watchdog also recently announced that it would require companies looking to list abroad to seek its approval first.Globally, technology companies and governments are paying more attention to how to prevent the exploitation and abuse of children online.Last year, a coalition of technology companies including Facebook, Google and Microsoft backed a plan to eradicate online child abuse.The U.K. last month also issued a new guidance to companies on how they can protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse on their platforms.

Hong Kong police arrest former Apple Daily senior editor

Hong Kong police arrest former Apple Daily senior editor

Hong Kong national security police have arrested a former editor at the now-defunct Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper, weeks after the paper was forced to close after authorities froze its assetsBy ZEN SOO Associated PressJuly 21, 2021, 10:22 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleHONG KONG — Hong Kong national security police on Wednesday arrested a former editor at the now-defunct Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper, weeks after the paper was forced to close after authorities froze its assets.Lam Man-chung, who was the executive editor-in-chief of Apple Daily, was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to collude with foreign forces to endanger national security, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper, which cited an unnamed source. He is the eighth person from the newspaper who has been arrested in recent weeks.Two other former Apple Daily journalists — associate publisher and deputy chief editor Chan Pui-man, as well as chief editorial writer Fung Wai-kong — were also detained Wednesday after their bail was revoked, according to local media reports.Chan was among the five Apple Daily executives and editors arrested on June 17, and Fung was first arrested at the airport late last month while allegedly attempting to leave on a flight to the U.K.Police said that a 51-year-old former editor was arrested Wednesday in relation to a similar case in June, but did not identify him.In June, police raided the newspaper’s offices, taking away hard drives and laptops as evidence. The arrests of top executives, editors and journalists at the paper, as well as the freezing of $2.3 million worth of assets, led Apply Daily to cease its operations last month. It sold a million copies of its final edition.Following months of anti-government protests in 2019, Beijing last year imposed a sweeping national security law in the semi-autonomous city that critics say restricts the freedoms promised to the former British colony that are not found on mainland China. More than 100 pro-democracy supporters have been arrested, and many others fled abroad.

AP Interview: US firms in Hong Kong face risks, says AmCham

AP Interview: US firms in Hong Kong face risks, says AmCham

The American Chamber of Commerce says U.S. businesses operating in Hong Kong should reassess their operations and decide if the risks of operating in the city are worth the rewardBy ZEN SOO Associated PressJuly 19, 2021, 8:30 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleHONG KONG — U.S. businesses operating in Hong Kong should reassess their operations and decide if the risks of operating there are worth the reward, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press.Tara Joseph said companies in Hong Kong are caught in the middle of antagonisms between the U.S. and China. Her remarks followed an advisory issued by the U.S. government on Friday warning businesses about risks in the former British colony.Relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated amid a trade war and mounting tensions over Chinese moves to curb political dissent in Hong Kong. The Biden administration cited Hong Kong’s shifting legal landscape and tightening control by the communist ruled government in Beijing as growing risks.“The business landscape has certainly become more complex than it used to be, we’re definitely in a new normal as far as business goes here,” Joseph said.“What is concerning overall, not just with this advisory, would be a constant tit-for-tat between U.S. and China when it comes to Hong Kong . . . (which) in many ways is caught right in the middle,” she said.The U.S. government advisory said operating in Hong Kong could lead to reputational and legal damage and data privacy risks.Hong Kong authorities slammed it as “unfounded fear-mongering,” accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy and double standards.Beijing has been walking back freedoms promised for 50 years to Hong Kong when Britain handed the colony over in 1997. The imposition of a sweeping national security law last June has led to the arrests of more than 100 pro-democracy supporters, including Jimmy Lai, whose Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper was forced to close after authorities arrested at least seven of its staff and froze millions of dollars in assets.Over the past year, Hong Kong authorities have amended electoral laws, arrested most of the city’s most prominent pro-democracy activists and banned large-scale protests citing public health risks from the pandemic, despite months of few coronavirus infections. Those moves have drawn criticism from the U.S. and other Western governments.China has hit back, saying Hong Kong matters are part of China’s internal affairs and other governments should not interfere.The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong represents U.S. business interests in the city. It has doubled down on that commitment, buying a new office to facilitate its work, the organization said last week.Joseph said the Biden administration’s advisory might influence the perspectives of U.S. companies not already operating in Hong Kong. But the city remains an important hub for doing business with mainland China.Hong Kong has a separate customs territory and ostensibly an independent judicial system, though the recent trend to designate many issues as falling under the National Security Law has experts worried that the city’s famed “rule of law” is being undermined.“Right now, rule of law is what makes businesses really tick here in an international environment. Commercial law at this point seems very sound and that’s very important to the business community,” said Joseph.“But any signs of that being unwound or any real changes taking place there could cause a lot of concern,” she said.Joseph said she hoped Hong Kong would manage to maintain those global standards.“So anything that takes away from that can make it harder for Hong Kong to maintain its role, but we hope that there will be an increased understanding and a recognition that it’s a win-win for people to maintain their businesses here and for Hong Kong to maintain its position as a gateway,” she said.

AP Interview: US firms in Hong Kong face risks, says AmCham

AP Interview: US firms in Hong Kong face risks, says AmCham

The American Chamber of Commerce says U.S. businesses operating in Hong Kong should reassess their operations and decide if the risks of operating in the city are worth the rewardBy ZEN SOO Associated PressJuly 19, 2021, 8:30 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleHONG KONG — U.S. businesses operating in Hong Kong should reassess their operations and decide if the risks of operating there are worth the reward, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press.Tara Joseph said companies in Hong Kong are caught in the middle of antagonisms between the U.S. and China. Her remarks followed an advisory issued by the U.S. government on Friday warning businesses about risks in the former British colony.Relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated amid a trade war and mounting tensions over Chinese moves to curb political dissent in Hong Kong. The Biden administration cited Hong Kong’s shifting legal landscape and tightening control by the communist ruled government in Beijing as growing risks.“The business landscape has certainly become more complex than it used to be, we’re definitely in a new normal as far as business goes here,” Joseph said.“What is concerning overall, not just with this advisory, would be a constant tit-for-tat between U.S. and China when it comes to Hong Kong . . . (which) in many ways is caught right in the middle,” she said.The U.S. government advisory said operating in Hong Kong could lead to reputational and legal damage and data privacy risks.Hong Kong authorities slammed it as “unfounded fear-mongering,” accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy and double standards.Beijing has been walking back freedoms promised for 50 years to Hong Kong when Britain handed the colony over in 1997. The imposition of a sweeping national security law last June has led to the arrests of more than 100 pro-democracy supporters, including Jimmy Lai, whose Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper was forced to close after authorities arrested at least seven of its staff and froze millions of dollars in assets.Over the past year, Hong Kong authorities have amended electoral laws, arrested most of the city’s most prominent pro-democracy activists and banned large-scale protests citing public health risks from the pandemic, despite months of few coronavirus infections. Those moves have drawn criticism from the U.S. and other Western governments.China has hit back, saying Hong Kong matters are part of China’s internal affairs and other governments should not interfere.The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong represents U.S. business interests in the city. It has doubled down on that commitment, buying a new office to facilitate its work, the organization said last week.Joseph said the Biden administration’s advisory might influence the perspectives of U.S. companies not already operating in Hong Kong. But the city remains an important hub for doing business with mainland China.Hong Kong has a separate customs territory and ostensibly an independent judicial system, though the recent trend to designate many issues as falling under the National Security Law has experts worried that the city’s famed “rule of law” is being undermined.“Right now, rule of law is what makes businesses really tick here in an international environment. Commercial law at this point seems very sound and that’s very important to the business community,” said Joseph.“But any signs of that being unwound or any real changes taking place there could cause a lot of concern,” she said.Joseph said she hoped Hong Kong would manage to maintain those global standards.“So anything that takes away from that can make it harder for Hong Kong to maintain its role, but we hope that there will be an increased understanding and a recognition that it’s a win-win for people to maintain their businesses here and for Hong Kong to maintain its position as a gateway,” she said.

Hong Kong national security police raid student union office

Hong Kong national security police raid student union office

Hong Kong’s national security police have raided the office of a university student union after student leaders commemorated a man who killed himself after stabbing a police officerBy ZEN SOO Associated PressJuly 16, 2021, 9:53 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleHONG KONG — Hong Kong’s national security police on Friday raided the office of a university student union after student leaders last week commemorated a man who killed himself after stabbing a police officer.Police raided the office at the University of Hong Kong and cordoned off the area around it. No students were in the office at the time.It was not clear if anything was seized or if any arrests were made. Police did not immediately comment.Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam earlier this week urged the university and police to take action after student leaders passed a motion expressing “deep sadness” and appreciating the “sacrifice” of the man who attacked the police officer.The man, identified as Leung Kin-fai, was described by police as a “lone wolf” domestic terrorist who was politically radicalized. On July 1, Leung stabbed a police officer with a knife before turning the weapon on himself.Leaders of the student union later apologized for passing the motion and stepped down from their posts.Despite the apology, the university issued a statement saying it no longer recognized the student union and would investigate the incident and “take action against the students concerned.”Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong last year after months of anti-government protests in 2019 that included violent clashes between student-led protesters and police.Over a hundred pro-democracy activists have been arrested under the law, which outlaws subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion to interfere in the city’s affairs.Critics say the law has been used to stifle dissent in Hong Kong and restricts freedoms promised to the former British colony for 50 years that are not found on the mainland.

Hong Kong district councilors must take oath despite exodus

Hong Kong district councilors must take oath despite exodus

Hong Kong’s leader says elected district councilors will still need to take an oath pledging allegiance to Hong Kong despite the exodus of many of their colleagues to avoid doing soBy ZEN SOO Associated PressJuly 13, 2021, 10:30 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleHONG KONG — Hong Kong’s leader said Tuesday that remaining elected district councilors will still need to take an oath pledging allegiance to the city despite the resignation of dozens of their peers who are refusing to do so.Some 170 district councilors, most of them supporters of the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s beleaguered pro-democracy movement have resigned in the past week rather than take the oath, according to a tally by a local news site. The resignations follow media reports that councilors may have to repay their wages if they are later disqualified from office.The government has not confirmed or denied those reports.The requirement that the city’s more than 400 district councilors take the oath was introduced this year. Previously, only lawmakers and government officials were required to take the oath and pledge allegiance to Hong Kong and the government.The requirement is seen as part of a broader crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony, which has seen an erosion of the freedoms it was promised it could maintain after being handed to Chinese control in 1997.A national security law imposed by Beijing last year has led to the arrest of many of the city’s prominent pro-democracy figures, including Joshua Wong and media tycoon Jimmy Lai. A majority of such activists are currently behind bars or have fled abroad.Hong Kong’s district councilors largely take care of municipal matters such as organizing construction projects and ensuring that public facilities are in order. Their election took on symbolic importance, however, after Hong Kong was rocked by pro-democracy protests for much of 2019.In elections that year, many pro-democracy candidates unseated incumbent councilors seen as loyal to Beijing.Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said at a regular news conference Tuesday that she is sure that given the security law, each district councilor will gauge their past behavior to check if they have “crossed a line.”“Individual incumbent district councilors of their own accord took some actions after seeing that there are certain legal requirements, that is, legal liabilities will have to be borne if they have violated certain rules and regulations,” Lam said. “They decided to resign. This is out of our control.”Lam said that despite the exodus of district councilors, authorities will press on with the oath-taking for the remaining councilors.She also brushed off concerns about whether the resignation of the councilors would affect the operations of the District Council.“That factor is not to be considered by us, because we have to implement the law,” she said. “Should there be any outcome, any consequences, we will deal with them.”Among the councilors to resign over the oath is Democratic Party chairman Lo Kin-hei, who has been a district councilor since 2012.Lo said the District Council is the “most democratic platform” in the city because people can directly choose their own representatives.”With the result of the 2019 election, it is clearly shown that Hong Kong people support the pro-democracy camp,” Lo said.He accused the government of seeking to disqualify councilors and then go after their finances in efforts that could bankrupt people.“That is a risk that people don’t want to take,” he said.

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