The Hong Kong government likes to deliver bad news on Fridays, and this week was no exception. HKFP revealed the bombshell on Friday afternoon that the local authorities had denied The Financial Times‘ Asia editor Victor Mallet a work visa, without offering any explanation. The rejection – confirmed by the paper – came weeks after Mallet moderated a talk by pro-independence activist Andy Chan Ho-tin at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, for which the British journalist serves as first vice president.
A fringe pro-independence party and a historic journalists’ club have been thrust into the forefront of the intensifying battle over free speech and the rule of law in Hong Kong, a semi- autonomous Chinese territory that has long prided itself on its civic freedoms.
A tiny and previously little-known political party with no presence in the legislature would have languished on the fringes of Hong Kong’s political sphere were it not for attempts by the city’s government to crush the group. Now, the Hong Kong National Party finds itself in the limelight, raised to an unaccustomed level of prominence in a dispute that is fast becoming a test for the city’s autonomy.