Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The main page of the HKChronicles website, on Jan. 14, 2021.

/The Associated Press

Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) said on Thursday it has blocked a website that publishes material mainly on 2019 anti-government protests, to comply with the city’s national security law, marking the first censorship of a local website under the law.

While the internet in mainland China is heavily censored and access to foreign social media platforms and news sites is blocked, residents in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong have so far enjoyed greater freedoms under the “one country, two systems” framework.

“We have disabled the access to the website in compliance with the requirement issued under the National Security Law,” a spokesperson for internet service provider HKBN said in an e-mail to Reuters, adding that the action was taken on Jan. 13.

Story continues below advertisement

The website, HKChronicles, first reported disruptions to its service last week.

On Sunday, the South China Morning Post newspaper, citing unnamed sources, reported that Hong Kong police had invoked the city’s national security law for the first time to block HKChronicles, which curates anti-government posts and publishes personal information on Hong Kong police officers. The news has caused concern among local residents and activists community.

Naomi Chan, editor of HKChronicles, said HKBN’s response had been expected and it would not affect operations. Efforts would continue to find ways to restore Hong Kongers’ access to the website, Chan said.

“This case represents a clear step towards the end of a relatively free and open internet in Hong Kong,” said Fergus Ryan, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Other major internet service providers in Hong Kong, China Mobile and PCCW, did not immediately reply to requests for comment by Reuters on Thursday afternoon.

HKBN did not comment on why HKChronicles faced issues last week.

The Hong Kong Security Bureau last week in an e-mail declined to comment on specific cases but said the police “will act on the basis of actual circumstances and according to the law.”

Story continues below advertisement

The police did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters on Thursday.

The security bureau said offences endangering national security include secession, subversion, organization and perpetration of terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. The offences are punishable with up to life in jail, according to the security law.

“All relevant action will be taken strictly in accordance with the law,” a Hong Kong Security Bureau spokeswoman added.

Under the controversial security legislation imposed by Beijing on the Chinese-ruled city in June, the police can ask service providers to restrict access to electronic platforms or messages that could pose a threat to national security.

In mainland China, access to foreign social media platforms and news sites such as Facebook and the New York Times is blocked by what is called the Great Firewall, which filters and blocks traffic between Chinese and overseas servers.

Residents in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, in contrast, have hitherto enjoyed freedoms unavailable on the mainland thanks to a “one country, two systems” framework that is meant to be valid until at least 2047.

Story continues below advertisement

Rights groups have voiced concern that the enactment of the national security law may herald the introduction of a censorship mechanism similar to the Great Firewall in Hong Kong.

“Closing this website represents another brick in the Great Firewall that Beijing is gradually building up around Hong Kong,” Ryan said.

Lokman Tsui, an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who specializes in privacy and online communications, said: “In the long term, it will push activism to go further underground, like people already switching to use Signal,” referring to a chat messaging app.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies