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Hong Kong-based FT journalist denied visa after chairing talk by independence activist

A Hong Kong-based Financial Times journalist has been denied a work visa after he chaired a talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club by an independence activist.

Government officials refused to renew the visa of FT Asia news editor Victor Mallet in a decision described by the FCC as “extraordinary” and “unprecedented”.

A Financial Times spokeswoman said: “This is the first time we have encountered this situation in Hong Kong, and we have not been giving a reason for the rejection.”

A petition started by the Alliance of Hong Kong Media, which includes the FCC, Reporters Without Borders and the Hong Kong Journalists Association has so far garnered almost 7000 signatures.

Mallet moved to Hong Kong in 2016 after a spell in New Delhi as the FT’s bureau chief. He is the first vice-president of the FCC of Hong Kong.

In a statement, the FCC urged the government to let Mallet stay and said it was expecting a “full explanation” from authorities. Such action in refusing a journalist visa in Hong Kong was “extremely rare, if not unprecedented”.

“Hong Kong rightly prides itself on its reputation as a place where the rule of law applies and where freedom of speech is protected by law,” it said. “The FCC has been proud to represent and champion that reputation since it moved here in 1949.

“In the absence of any reasonable explanation, the FCC calls on the Hong Kong authorities to rescind their decision.”

The talk chaired by Mallet was delivered by Andy Chan Ho-tin, an activist who supports independence from Beijing and heads The Hong Kong National Party.

According to the SCMP, Mallet has argued the FCC was upholding freedom of expression and that all political views should be heard.

Officials in China, along with the Hong Kong government, had demanded the talk be called off.

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