The head of US law firm Davis Polk’s Asia division has pulled out of speaking at a Hong Kong government forum commemorating the coming into force of the city-state’s controversial national security laws, after pro-democracy activists branded it a “propaganda event”.
In a post on Linkedin, Martin Rogers, the chair of Davis Polk’s Asia business, said he had withdrawn from talking at the event, as he claimed his initial “agreement to participate did not reflect an endorsement or support of any topics discussed or individuals or organisations involved.”
The withdrawal comes after Hong Kong activist Samuel Bickett argued the event had been set up to “validate” Hong Kong’s national security laws, which gave the Hong Kong government sweeping powers to crack down on protestors.
The incident comes after the Hong Kong government gave itself sweeping powers to crack down on anti-China protestors, in the wake of widespread riots in 2019-20.
In March, two top-ranking British judges stood down from their positions in Hong Kong’s highest court, after claiming the National Security Law – and its impacts on freedom of expression – had made their positions untenable.
Earlier in the same month, a British human rights barrister also fled Hong Kong after he was ordered to meet with the city-state’s national security police, over claims he violated the national security laws.