A Hong Kong Internet service provider confirmed Thursday, that it blocked access to a pro-democracy, anti-Chinese Communist Party news website called HK Chronicles, under orders from the Beijing-controlled city government.
Censoring the website was part of implementing the controversial National Security Law that aims to destroy any form of movement for democracy and Hong Kong independence.
The Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN), an Internet service provider, confirmed that it had blocked an anti-government website to comply with the National Security Law and, following direct orders from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), reported the Hong Kong FP.
Users of the site reported problems accessing it since last Wednesday. A statement from HK Chronicles said, “After discussion and investigation with our supporters, we discovered that some Hong Kong providers have deliberately cut off any connection to our servers, resulting in the impossibility of accessing our content.
The telecommunications companies that have effectively blocked user access to the site include several of the city’s major providers, including HKBN and China Mobile Hong Kong, among others.
“We have disabled access to the website in accordance with the requirement issued by the National Security Law,” an HKBN spokesman told Hong Kong Free Press on Thursday.
The HK Chronicles website still exists, and users outside Hong Kong can access it, but it remains blocked within the territory. Most of the publications are in Chinese, but an Oct. 2019 English-language publication placed at the top of the site states its mission:
“We seek to develop a convenient, efficient, and easy-to-use platform to provide information to protesters and our supporters of democracy. With the generous help of local telegram channels ‘Dad Finds Boy’ and ‘Son Finds Parents,’ we are currently covering the details of locating the police officers who committed serious crimes and brutality against the citizens of Hong Kong.”
One of the National Security Law articles in 2020 expressly authorizes the police to shut down websites that publish information deemed to threaten Hong Kong’s security. This mandate can presumably be extended to include publishing personal information about police officers, as this site would.
In parallel to the web censorship just released, Hong Kong police arrested more than 50 democracy advocates last week in a massive crackdown that alarmed the international community.
More arrests were reported on Thursday, including 11 people suspected of helping a dozen pro-democracy activists flee Hong Kong for Taiwán last year.
Hong Kong Security Law
The controversial law is criticized for severely restricting freedom of expression in Hong Kong, allowing authorities to apprehend Hong Kong suspects and try them in Mainland China, where complaints abound about the lack of minimum rights of expression. It also provides for creating a kind of secret police, acting directly under the orders of the CCP, placing the territory under the same authoritarian rules as mainland China.
The law defines as punishable crimes: “secession, subversion, organization, perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. Article 29 of the law specifically allows for the prosecution of any person or organization “who provokes hatred by illegal means among Hong Kong residents” towards the Beijing or Hong Kong governments.
Among others, President Trump has repeatedly pointed out that the National Security Law seriously undermines human rights and democracy in Hong Kong.