Hong Kong leader refuses to explain journalist visa denial

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that linking the visa denial to pro-independence leader Andy Chan’s talk in August was ‘pure speculation.’ (AFP)
Updated 09 October 2018
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Hong Kong leader refuses to explain journalist visa denial

  • An application to renew Victor Mallet’s work visa has been refused and on Sunday he was given seven days to leave Hong Kong
  • Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision had been handed down by immigration authorities

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s leader Tuesday refused to say why the city had denied a visa to a leading Financial Times journalist, despite escalating demands for an explanation of the unprecedented challenge to freedom of the press.
Victor Mallet, the FT’s Asia news editor and a British national, angered authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong by hosting a speech at the city’s press club by Andy Chan, the leader of a tiny pro-independence political party, in August.
Chan’s party was later banned as Beijing cracks down on any pro-independence sentiment in the semi-autonomous city.
An application to renew Mallet’s work visa has been refused and on Sunday he was given seven days to leave Hong Kong.
Facing questions for the first time since the visa denial emerged last week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision had been handed down by immigration authorities.
She said linking it to the Chan talk was “pure speculation.”
“As a rule — not only locally, but internationally — we will never disclose, the immigration department will not disclose, the individual circumstances of the case or the considerations of this decision,” Lam told reporters.
She refused to directly acknowledge the specifics of the speculation over why Mallet was denied the visa, admitting only that she had “noticed there has been some talk on the street.”
However, Lam said the government “will not tolerate any advocacy of Hong Kong independence and things that harm national security, territorial integrity and developmental interests.”
She refused to comment on how Mallet could be linked to any of those potential threats when it was pointed out that he was not an independence advocate but had simply chaired a talk by Chan at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which has also hosted talks by Chinese officials.
Asked whether journalists could now be punished for interviewing independence activists or writing about independence, Lam said she could give no guidance but insisted that freedom of reporting and expression were “still core values.”
Britain and the United States have expressed concern over the visa refusal and its impact on press freedom.
On Monday, a group of the city’s most influential lawyers also demanded an explanation, while the American Chamber of Commerce warned that curtailing press freedom could damage the city’s competitiveness.
A journalists’ alliance handed over petitions with more than 15,000 signatures to the government Monday calling for an explanation of its visa rejection.


Apple expected to launch long-awaited video service

Updated 25 March 2019
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Apple expected to launch long-awaited video service

  • The new video service is expected to have original TV and movies
  • Apple is pushing digital subscriptions as it searches for new profit growth

Apple is expected to announce Monday that it’s launching a video service that could compete with Netflix, Amazon and cable TV itself.

It’s a long-awaited attempt from the iPhone maker, several years after Netflix turned “binge watching” into a worldwide phenomenon.

The new video service is expected to have original TV shows and movies that reportedly cost Apple more than $1 billion — far less than Netflix and HBO spend every year.

Also expected is a subscription service consisting of news, entertainment and sports bundled from newspapers and magazines.

Apple is making the announcements at its Cupertino, California, headquarters during an event likely to be studded with Hollywood celebrities.

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline. The company is pushing digital subscriptions as it searches for new growth.

Making must-have TV shows and movies that are watchable on any device has propelled Netflix into a force in both Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

But Apple remained focused on making on gadgets: iPhones, iPads, computers and its Apple TV streaming box for TVs. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs began toying with the idea of building a powerful TV business, but he couldn’t pull it off before his death in 2011. It has taken his successor, CEO Tim Cook, nearly eight years to draw up the script that the company will now try to execute.

“Apple is very late to this game,” eMarketer analyst Paul Verna said. “Netflix has become the gold standard in how to create and distribute content, using all the data they have about their viewers.”

Netflix’s prowess has attracted 139 million subscribers worldwide. But Apple will have several other deep-pocketed competitors fighting for consumers’ dollars. Amazon has also become a formidable force in video streaming. Walt Disney Co. is launching its own service this year, armed with an imposing library that became more formidable with its purchase of 21st Century Fox’s films and TV series. AT&T is debuting another streaming service built around HBO.

Apple has plenty of money to spend, though, with about $245 billion in cash and marketable securities. It must prove itself attractive to Hollywood even without a track record for supporting high-quality programming and then ensuring it gets widely seen.

As part of its efforts to make quick connections, Apple hired two longtime Sony television executives, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, in 2017. They have reportedly signed up stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Aniston.