The try to stop Mr. Wong from collaborating within the occasion has highlighted considerations about free speech in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese language territory that was promised it might maintain its own political, economic and legal systems after the 1997 handover from Britain. The episode has additionally renewed questions concerning the affect that China, and other people with deep enterprise pursuits in China, maintain over universities, nongovernmental organizations and different teams that depend on rich donors.
“I’ve watched with alarm over the previous decade the growing drive area that has been projected by China on assume tanks, universities, civil society organizations and cultural teams,” stated Orville Schell, director of the Middle on U.S.-China Relations on the Asia Society. “The truth is that if you wish to work with China, it’s a must to be discreet. I might say it’s a worrisome development.”
Mr. Wong was a pacesetter of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, which takes its identify from the umbrellas protesters used to defend themselves from police pepper spray throughout a monthslong occupation of main roadways in Hong Kong. The demonstrators have been calling for a extra direct say within the election of Hong Kong’s chief government, the highest political workplace. China’s central authorities had proposed direct elections, however solely of candidates who had been vetted by a largely professional-Beijing nominating committee, a limitation that the protesters and professional-democracy lawmakers rejected.
The e-book occasion final month was moved to the Overseas Correspondents’ Membership. Mr. Wong ended up not attending, as he was participating in a protest the place he was arrested.
Within the fall, the Hong Kong Middle of the Asia Society canceled a screening of a documentary on the Umbrella Motion due to considerations that a panel on the movie would have solely included professional-democracy viewpoints.
Consultant Chris Smith, a Republican of New Jersey and co-chairman of the Congressional-Government Fee on China, stated this week that the Asia Society had “some explaining to do” over the cancellations and that he would search to know whether or not the choices have been made “due to self-censorship or underneath direct threats from Beijing.”
“It’s unhappy to see this venerable group kowtowing to Beijing’s ‘purple strains’ in Hong Kong and abandoning its core mission to teach and construct bridges,” Mr. Smith added, in response to a written assertion.
The Asia Society stated in its assertion that the group, “all through its historical past, has hosted occasions in any respect of its international places with audio system representing all sides of main Asia-associated points.”
S. Alice Mong, the chief director of the Asia Society Hong Kong Middle, stated in a message to members that the group had “acquired no representations from the Chinese language authorities on this matter.”
The Hong Kong chapter declined to remark additional. Mr. Wong wrote on Twitter that he was “dissatisfied to study that the management of @AsiaSociety had not taken any measures to treatment the erosion to the liberty of the press.”
Ronnie Chan, a billionaire property developer and philanthropist in Hong Kong, is co-chairman of the Asia Society and chairman of the Asia Society’s Hong Kong Middle. He was additionally an outspoken supporter of Leung Chun-ying, the previous chief government who was a goal of the 2014 protests. Mr. Chan didn’t reply to a request for remark made Friday via his firm, Hold Lung Properties.
The Asia Society famous that Mr. Wong spoke at an occasion at its New York headquarters in Might. The dialogue was invitation-solely and off the report, a choice that was made partially as a result of the chance to host got here too late for a big, public occasion, Susan Jakes, editor of the Asia Society’s publication ChinaFile, wrote on Twitter.
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