The Chinese-language edition of mainland tabloid Global Times warned on Tuesday that “Hong Kong separatists” plan to “incite [people to] surround the Legislative Council” on Wednesday to protest against the controversial Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014, widely dubbed the “Internet Article 23” due to the perceived threats to online expression it poses.

Alluding to a planned demonstration outside LegCo by digital rights group Keyboard Frontline, Hong Kong-based “special correspondent” Yang Weimin warns that “radical factions” in the territory have been “smearing” the proposed amendments to the copyright law and using it to “put pressure on moderate pan-democrats.”

Global Times article warning of “Internet Article 23” demonstration. Photo: Huanqiu.

Netizens, internet freedom advocacy groups and lawmakers have expressed concerns that the bill, intended to extend the protection of copyright owners to the internet, could limit the creation and distribution of all derivative works, as it does not include an open-ended exemption for “user generated content,” a “contract override” nor a “fair use” term.

They could kill this Council. Photo: HKFP.

According to Yang, also vice head of the office of the Central Economic and Financial Leading Group,  these are merely “misunderstandings” sown by radical elements. Delaying the bill’s implementation, his report says, can only lead to “entrapment in endless political struggle and lost economic opportunities.”

Fortunately, in Yang’s view, this is unlikely to happen. Referencing the recent establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau following years of filibustering and comments made by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying decrying the tactic, Yang concludes that further resistance to the bill is “useless.”

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Ryan Kilpatrick

Ryan Kilpatrick is a local writer, journalist and editor. Formerly National Online Editor for the That's magazine group in China, his work on the history and politics of the region has earned him the CEFC Award in Modern China Studies and has also appeared in China Economic Review, Asian Studies Review, China Green News, e-International Relations, Shanghaiist and various publications at his alma mater, the University of Hong Kong, where he is currently enrolled in the Master of Journalism programme.