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Anger erupts at Hong Kong FCC

A prolonged and noisy demonstration was held outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong today to protest against the club’s invited lunchtime speaker who advocates independence for this Chinese city. The protesters also denounced the FCC itself.

A strong police presence kept the dozens of demonstrators, some waving Chinese flags and anti-independence banners, away from the FCC entrance on Ice House Street. China excoriates any person or group that suggests any form of independence or separate status for Hong Kong.  

The club was packed to hear Andy Chan, outspoken leader of the fringe Hong Kong National Party, condemn China in terms rarely heard in public in Hong Kong since Britain handed it back to China in 1997. “We used to be colonised by the Brits, now we are by the Chinese,” was among his less incendiary statements. He referred to Beijing as “Peking”, which is what Western media including Reuters called the Chinese capital decades ago. 

The FCC, perhaps better known as a congenial watering-hole than as a champion of free speech, has defied pressure from Beijing and the pro-establishment camp in Hong Kong by inviting Chan, whose party faces being banned and who himself seems resigned to a jail term.

Some demonstrators called on the government to “take back” the FCC, which has been accused of paying a token rent for its premises. The club denies this, saying it pays a commercial rent of HK$580,000 (US$73,000) a month. ■