After the promulgation of the controversial national security law in Hong Kong, the popular platform TikTok decided on Tuesday (7) to suspend its application in the territory. Threatening, the Hong Kong chief executive has warned pro-democracy activists that the new legislation will be applied “vigorously”.
Beijing faces a flood of criticism, especially from Western nations, for imposing the law that punishes acts it considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries in Hong Kong.
Chinese censorship also provokes strong reactions from American Internet giants. With respect to freedom of expression, Facebook, Google and Twitter confirmed on Monday (6) that they will no longer respond to requests for information about their users made by China or by the Hong Kong authorities.
The social network TikTok went further and suspended its application in the territory. The platform, which is mainly popular with young people, said the complete halt, decided on because of the imposition of the recent national security law, will take a few days. TikTok, which belongs to the Chinese group ByteDance, must inform its users and advertisers beforehand.
The tool, famous for its light and humorous videos, had in January 800 million users, according to data from DataReportal. Often, it has to defend itself from its ties to China, where the group’s headquarters has another app, but with a different name. TikTok has always denied sharing its data with Chinese authorities and said it had no intention of accepting such requests.
The four worldwide platforms have declared that their teams are closely examining the controversial new law.
Chinese Big Brother
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced China’s censorship of Hong Kong activists, schools and libraries and called the Chinese resolution “Orwellian” in a reference to Georges Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother. Officials in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, a major global financial center, have ordered that currently available books be withdrawn for review under the new security law.
The text enacted last week criminalizes opinions such as requests for independence or autonomy. Some Hong Kong bookstores have already announced that they were withdrawing titles from pro-democracy activists.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to destroy free Hong Kong,” said Pompeo. Under “the repressive National Security Act, local authorities – in an Orwellian step – have now established a national central government office, started to remove CCP-critical books from the shelves, banned political slogans and demanded that schools apply censorship,” he said. .
The head of US diplomacy said they were “stealing the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong”. “So far, Hong Kong has prospered because freedom of speech and thought was permitted under rules independent of the law,” he said.
Carrie Lam threatening and reassuring
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, who is close to Beijing, defended the new law on Tuesday. During a press conference, she was both threatening and reassuring.
Carrie Lam guaranteed that the text, which she says allows the restoration of stability in the territory, will be “applied vigorously”. She warned “radical” activists not to “cross the red line as the consequences of violating the law are very serious”.
The former British colony was returned to China in 1997 on condition that individual and collective freedoms were guaranteed to the population. Unlike the rest of the country, Hong Kong has unlimited access to the internet. The new legislation passed by the Chinese Parliament paves the way for radical changes and a potential authoritarian turn.