HONG KONG, April 20 (AP): YouTube on Wednesday took down the campaign channel of Hong Kong’s sole candidate to become its next leader, John Lee, citing compliance with US sanctions imposed against the former No. 2 official.
Lee had set up a Facebook page and a YouTube channel to promote his campaign, even though he is running uncontested in the election for chief executive on May 8, in which an Election Committee of about 1,500 people will select the city’s leader.
The committee is made up largely of pro-Beijing members, including legislators and representatives of different professions and industries in the city.
Lee, who resigned as chief secretary earlier this month to run in the election, had been live-streaming his meetings with media and political figures in the city on both Facebook and YouTube prior to the termination of his YouTube channel.
He is among a group of top Hong Kong and Beijing officials — including current leader Carrie Lam — who were sanctioned by the US in 2020 for undermining the city’s autonomy and restricting its freedoms following Beijing’s imposition of a tough national security law on the semi-autonomous city.
Google, YouTube’s parent company, said in a statement that it “complies with applicable US sanctions laws and enforces related policies under its Terms of Service”.
“After review and consistent with these policies, we terminated the Johnlee2022 YouTube channel,” it said.
A spokesperson for Facebook, now called Meta, said Lee will be allowed to “maintain a demonetised presence on Facebook and Instagram, and we have taken steps to prevent the use of payments services.” His Facebook page remained accessible Wednesday evening.
Local media reported that Tam Yiu-chung, Lee’s campaign director and the city’s sole delegate to China’s top legislative body, said YouTube’s decision was “completely unreasonable”.