The Foreign Correspondents’ Club’s (FCC) website remained offline on Tuesday owing to suspected malware. The club announced that the site was inaccessible, hours after it hosted a controversial talk by pro-independence activist Andy Chan.

The sold-out luncheon took place despite pressure from Beijing to drop the event, whilst dozens of pro-Beijing and pro-democracy demonstrators gathered outside in protest.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“The FCC’s website is undergoing maintenance to repair what we suspect is malware affecting the site, and currently cannot be accessed. We hope it will be operating normally soon,” an announcement on the club’s Facebook page said.

In Pictures: Hong Kong is ‘being annexed and destroyed by China’, says independence activist Andy Chan

Shortly after the event, the Chinese foreign ministry in Hong Kong condemned the FCC for hosting Chan, saying that it had hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and “seriously damaged the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The local authorities also issued a statement calling the event “totally inappropriate and unacceptable.”

When HKFP visited the FCC’s homepage earlier on Tuesday, it appeared that a blockchain platform known as VALUS had been installed on the site.

‘False alarm’

Hours before the talk, the fire brigade responded to an emergency call at the FCC’s Central premises. The club, however, said that there was no emergency, and the call was likely a hoax.

The Fire Services Department arrive at the FCC. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

In a statement, the club thanked the Fire Services Department “for its prompt response to what we believe to have been a hoax call from outside the building announcing that there was a fire or fire alarm activation at the club shortly before the event began. There was in fact no fire and no alarm had been activated.”

See also: National Party founder Andy Chan says party ‘unmasked’ Hong Kong’s political reality

Last month, the police told the government that there was a sufficiently strong case in the interests of “national security, public safety, public order, protection of freedom and rights of others” for the security secretary to ban Chan’s party, citing the Section 8(1)(a) of the Societies Ordinance for the first time after the Handover.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.