Hong Kong’s pro-democracy radio station closes after its bank account is frozen

(Bloomberg) – A pro-democracy radio station in Hong Kong will air its last show on Friday evening, ending nearly two decades of broadcasting due to what it called a “dangerous” political situation.

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“Citizens’ Radio has no choice but to suspend the broadcast,” founder Tsang Kin-shing wrote in a post on the station’s official Facebook page. “Faced with a dangerous change in the political situation, red lines are everywhere.”

The broadcaster was founded in 2005 by former lawmaker Tsang, and famous for its broadcasts that are often critical of the authorities. The station’s Hang Seng bank account had recently been frozen, Citizen Radio told Bloomberg News via Facebook Messenger on Friday, making operating conditions unsustainable.

The station only had enough money to pay rent until August, Tsang said. A representative for Hang Seng Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, Hong Kong opposition politicians from the League of Social Democrats staged a rally outside HSBC Holdings Plc to protest the bank’s decision to close the group’s accounts and demand an explanation.

Hong Kong authorities cracked down on free speech following a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020. Two prominent pro-democracy media outlets – Apple Daily and Stand News – shut down under pressure from the public. security police campaigns, and several journalists face life in prison for charges brought under the law.

Cédric Alviani, director of the East Asia bureau of Reporters Without Borders, described the station’s closure as an “irreplaceable loss” in a statement.

Alviani added that the broadcaster’s bank had refused to register donations for almost a year.

“We urge the government to end its policy of harassment against independent media, which has already significantly damaged the territory’s international image since the enactment of the national security law,” Alviani added.

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