Local newspaper the Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ) will cancel veteran political commentator Joseph Lian Yi-zheng’s column starting on August 1, reported Stand News on Friday afternoon.

In a brief letter addressed to Lian, HKEJ editor-in-chief Alice Kwok Yim-ming said his column will be suspended because “the newspaper will be undergoing a new round of restructuring, including of its Section A opinion page, beginning next Monday.”

Joseph Lian Yi-zheng. Photo: Stand News.

Lian has so far not responded to the cancellation of his column.

Formerly the HKEJ’s editor-in-chief, Lian has been writing irregularly for the newspaper since 2010. In recent years he has become known for expressing sympathy towards the Hong Kong localist movement, and in a column this April, laid out several scenarios in which Hong Kong, in his opinion, could legally become independent. Last October, he called the Hong Kong Government a “foreign regime” in an essay published in Hong Kong University magazine Undergrad.

In 1998, Lian was appointed a full-time member of the Hong Kong Government’s Central Policy Unit, a body responsible for advising the Chief Executive. However, he was dismissed from his post in 2004 after reportedly falling out with the administration and participating in street demonstrations against then-leader Tung Chee-hwa.

The Hong Kong Economic Journal. Photo: Stand News

Founded in 1973, the HKEJ is owned by tycoon Richard Li Tzar-kai, who invested in the newspaper in 2006.

Current editor-in-chief Kwok was appointed in August 2013. Her tenure began controversially, with the resignation of columnist Yau Ching-yuen alongside three reporters that October. Yau went on to establish online media platform Post 852.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.