Hong Kong Sevens could be ‘catalyst’ for return of other sporting events South China Morning Post
Hong Kong authorities, citing “security reasons,” have barred more than 10 journalists from covering events and ceremonies this week marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
The journalists represent at least seven media outlets, including international news agencies Reuters and Agence France-Presse and others from Hong Kong, the association said in a statement posted online late Tuesday.
“The authorities have made ad hoc and narrow interview arrangements at this important juncture and have put forth vague grounds for refusal, seriously undermining the freedom of the press in Hong Kong,” the statement read.
The Hong Kong outlets affected include the English-language South China Morning Post, and Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao as well as online news outlet HK01, the association said. The South China Morning Post said in a news report that one of its photographers had been rejected, with no reason given.
The rejections come amid strict requirements for those attending the July 1 events. Journalists covering the events must have daily COVID-19 nucleic acid tests starting last Sunday and stay in a quarantine hotel from Wednesday.
A news report by Hong Kong Economic Journal said at least three other journalists from local news outlets were informed Wednesday that their applications to cover the events had been rejected.
Despite receiving approvals that had instructions for checking in to the quarantine hotel, some received rejection notices on Wednesday while on their way to the hotel, while others were informed that they were barred from the events upon arrival.
Authorities had invited media outlets to submit up to 20 applications to cover the events – which include a flag-raising ceremony and the inauguration for the new Hong Kong government – but later specified that only one journalist from each outlet could be sent to cover each of the two events.
Reuters said in a news report it had put forward two journalists’ names to cover the events, and that both applications were rejected.
Ming Pao and HK01 did not immediately comment. Agence France-Presse declined to comment and an SCMP spokesperson declined to comment beyond their news report.
The affected media organizations were invited to send other journalists to cover the event, but the replacements must also meet the quarantine and testing requirements, according to the journalist association’s statement.
The Information Services Department, which sent out the initial invites to media outlets informing them to register to cover the event, declined to provide information on how many journalists were given accreditation and also did not comment on an SCMP news report that said one of its own photographers had been barred from the event.
“The government is striking a balance as far as possible between the need of media work and security requirements,” the Information Services Department said in a statement. “We will not comment on the accreditation outcome of individual organizations and persons.”
The rejections came as Hong Kong police confirmed that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the city for the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.
Xi’s visit will be his first trip outside of mainland China since the coronavirus pandemic took hold about 2 1/2 years ago. Police have announced a raft of security measures, including road closures and a no-fly zone.
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Taipei, June 16, 2022 — Hong Kong authorities should allow media outlets to freely cover the inauguration of Chief Executive-elect John Lee and the 25th anniversary of the territory’s handover to China, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On the evening of Thursday, June 16, applications closed for media outlets to seek access to cover ceremonies marking both events, scheduled for July 1; the Hong Kong Journalists Association trade group and the Hong Kong Free Press news website both reported that at least 10 domestic and local outlets were not invited or allowed to apply to cover the events.
The HKFP reported that many of those outlets regularly receive invitations to other Hong Kong government events, but the Information Services Department, the government’s primary communication agency, said only select media outlets had been invited to cover the July 1 events due to considerations including the COVID-19 pandemic, security requirements, and space restraints.
Hong Kong news website InMedia reported that, when it applied to cover the events, an Information Services Department official said “those who need invitations have already received theirs.”
“Hong Kong’s claims to honor press freedom should compel it to offer open access for media coverage of important events, such as the inauguration of John Lee as chief executive and the 25th anniversary of the handover,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Barring some media outlets from freely covering such events severely undercuts the credibility of incoming Chief Executive Lee, who has repeatedly said that Hong Kong enjoys press freedom.”
The Information Services Department failed to invite or approve access for the Japanese outlets Nikkei, Asahi Shimbun, and Kyodo News; Taiwan’s CTV; the U.S. photo wire Getty Images; the Europe Pressphoto Agency; and Hong Kong’s InMedia, the Photographic Society of Hong Kong, Truth Media Hong Kong, and the HKFP, according to the HKFP’s report.
According to InMedia, the department asked news outlets to include photos and the personal information of the journalists who planned to attend in their applications.
In its statement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association called for authorities to be more inclusive by accepting media organizations’ applications to attend the events.
CPJ emailed the Information Services Department for comment but did not immediately receive any reply.
Yahoo has announced a series of Metaverse and NFT-related activities in Hong Kong, a day after Meta Platforms outlined its own metaverse plans for the region.
Yahoo, a US-based internet media company, revealed that it will host a series of virtual events and concerts for Hong Kong residents in the Decentraland metaverse.
According to Lorraine Cheung, the head of audience at Yahoo Hong Kong, the company sees the Metaverse as an attractive alternative for Hong Kong residents looking to engage in social activities while pandemic restrictions remain in force. On Thursday last week, a nation-wide mandate was introduced requiring that a negative Covid test be provided to enter all public venues such bars and restaurants.
“We hope to use the Metaverse to connect people regardless of time and physical location.”
Yahoo will also launch a non-fungible token (NFT) exhibition called The Abyss of Kwun Tong, which will see local artists virtually recreate the historic neighborhood of Kwun Tong which has been heavily impacted by redevelopment.
Creative Producer Leung Ching-hsuan said that the goal of the NFT exhibition was to “retain humanity using technology.”
On Tuesday, the social-media giant Meta put forward a strategy to work alongside local businesses and organizations such as cafes, schools and art galleries to create ‘“first-hand” Metaverse experiences for residents.
Major companies are increasingly embracing the Metaverse with international consulting firm McKinsey releasing a report this week predicting that Metaverse-related spending could be worth nearly $5 trillion by 2030.
Earlier this year, JPMorgan, the largest bank in the United States, made headlines by releasing a report that called Metaverse technology a “one trillion-dollar opportunity”, alongside opening their own virtual headquarters in the Decentraland metaverse.
Decentraland’s MANA token has rallied today, gaining a little over 14% in the last 24 hours according to data from CoinMarketCap.
When EventX, a fast-growing Hong Kong startup cofounded by a 30 Under 30 Asia alum, raised $10 million in Series B financing last year, the funding round was led by two investors. One was Gaocheng Capital, a venture capital and private equity firm based in Beijing. The other was HTC, the formerly high-flying smartphone maker.
The investment in EventX shows the Taiwanese tech company’s new focus: Virtual reality. It was “important to help us expand our universe of VR experiences,” says Joseph Lin, general manager of HTC’s Viveport virtual reality app store. “Because EventX focuses on 2D event management, it’s accessible to people who don’t have VR devices as well as those who do.”
EventX is an event management platform focusing on virtual events. Founded in 2013 by Angus Luk, who made the 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2020, and Sum Wong, the startup says it has served more than 5 million attendees across over 100 cities.
Last week, EventX announced it raised $8 million in funding led by GL Ventures, the early-stage investment arm of Beijing-based Hillhouse Capital (best known for its investments in Baidu, Didi and Tencent). Previous backers of EventX include VC firm 500 Startups, Taiwan-based accelerator AppWorks and Hong Kong government-backed Cyberport Incubation Programme.
“HTC and EventX are a good fit,” says Neil Mawston, an executive director with market research firm Strategy Analytics. “HTC sells VR devices in Asia, while EventX delivers VR software and services for business events in Asia. HTC and EventX have one eye on today’s virtual events, such as simple 2D webinars, and one eye on tomorrow’s 3D corporate metaverse, such as avatar meeting rooms.”
HTC, founded in 1997 as a contract manufacturer of electronics by Cher Wang and Peter Chou, stood out a decade ago for making some of the world’s earliest Android smartphones—before being overtaken by the top Chinese and Korean brands as the technology became increasingly commoditized. Facing a range of business losses six years ago, HTC made a hard turn into virtual reality gear and is now one of the leading brands in the growing field.
The Taiwanese tech company already runs a virtual reality meeting service called Vive Sync, which lets conference participants work remotely but feel like they are in the same room. Participants can customize avatars, create private meeting rooms, and work face-to-face with off-site colleagues.
HTC’s Vive-branded virtual reality gear competes most ostensibly with Facebook’s Oculus equipment. Oculus also has a “solution” for virtual meetings, so HTC must compete, says Brady Wang, Taipei-based associate director with market research firm Counterpoint Research. HTC, adds Wang, “needs to create an ecosystem.”
As countries ease up on COVID restrictions, activities are going back in person. But the virtual event space continues to attract investors, at least in Asia. Hong Kong-based events management platform EventX said today it has raised another $8 million for its Series B, lifting the total amount secured for this round to $18 million.
The new injection was led by GL Ventures, the early-stage investment arm of Hillhouse Capital. Previous investors include Gaocheng Capital, an investment firm founded by a former Hillhouse partner, and HTC, the Taiwanese electronics giant that has pushed into virtual reality in recent years. EventX declined to disclose its post-money valuation.
The Series B came eight years after EventX was founded, an unusually patient fundraising pace compared to many cash-burning internet firms across the border in mainland China. The company started out by managing real-life events, from supporting user registration to helping attendees exchange virtual business cards. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, it saw an opportunity to go digital, so it developed a new service akin to Hopin, supporting live events like webinars and virtual exhibitions. Today, the platform also has a lead generation function, helping organizers develop new clients and partners through events.
Thanks to pandemic control on in-person events, Hopin became one of the fastest-growing companies in recent memory. But news came last week that the London-based startup had laid off 12% of its staff as it realized post-COVID demand for virtual events would slow. The pandemic was also a boon to EventX; its online attendees in the fourth quarter of 2021 grew by 120%. And even if live events resume their normalcy, the company believes it can cling onto its long-running offline business.
So far, the company has helped organize events in over 100 cities, mostly across Asia, and its platform has served more than five million attendees. Its team of 100 is spread across Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
The startup plans to spend its new proceeds on potential acquisitions, product development, recruitment and expansion in Asia, particularly Taiwan and Southeast Asia. It also has ambitions to bring VR solutions into its event experience by teaming up with its investor HTC.
(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong top market watchdog called a meeting with brokers this week to discuss handling of “disruptive events” as the Asian financial hub faces its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.
Other items for the Thursday meeting include managing risks of business email leakage, brokerage insurance, and handling complaints, according to three people familiar with the agenda who asked not be named discussing internal matters. The email inviting to the meeting made no mention of a lockdown, the people said.
A spokesperson for the SFC said the watchdog maintains regular dialog with the industry. The meeting was earlier reported by Sing Tao.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that she had no plans for a citywide lockdown to rein in the current surge in infections. After successfully preventing any widespread outbreaks for roughly two years, Hong Kong is now grappling with its worst daily caseloads of the pandemic. The government has shut bars and late evening dining, embarked on mass testing at apartment blocks and closed schools.
Banks and brokers already last month ramped up or extended efforts to protect their staff and business continuity in Hong Kong as the city’s fifth wave of infections emerged. Non-critical staff are working from home, while traders have been split into separate teams to avoid disruptions.
In past circulars, the SFC has defined “disruptive events” as issues that could endanger business continuity, ranging from the breakdown of a single computer to cybersecurity incidents or pandemics, which can lead to a wide-scale problems.
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