A well-respected Hong Kong newspaper has axed a weekly column
by a political activist and hedge fund manager as the Asian
financial centre braces for a wave of protests against
China's decision to rule out full democracy.
Columnist Edward Chin Chi-kin was told by the
Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal on Friday that
his half-page weekly column that he had written since 2006
would be cancelled due to a new page design, the South China
Morning Post reported on Tuesday.
Chin, a member of a movement called Occupy Central that has
threatened to blockade Hong Kong's financial district amid
the democracy row, branded the move "a political decision",
the Post said.
Chin and the Hong Kong Economic Journal did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
The editorial policy of the Hong Kong Economic Journal had
changed after it was bought in 2006 by Richard Li, chairman
of telecom group PCCW and the younger son of billionaire
businessman Li Ka-shing, the Post quoted Chin as saying.
Richard Li was not immediately available to comment.
In a statement late on Monday, the Independent Commentators'
Association, of which Chin is a member, expressed "deep
concern" over the move.
"It is not hard for someone to associate the coincidence with
political censorship," it added.
In July, the Hong Kong Journalists' Association said press
freedom in the former British colony had entered its darkest
period in decades.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with wide-ranging
autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland under a
policy of "one country, two systems".
The pro-democracy activists want universal suffrage, but
Communist Party rulers in Beijing say any candidate for the
territory's chief executive has to be first approved by a
nominating panel - likely to be stacked with pro-Beijing
loyalists and making it almost impossible for an opposition
democrat to get on the ballot.
Police on Monday used pepper spray to disperse protesters
angry at China's decision. They said on Tuesday they arrested
19 people during scuffles. No one was injured.