PayPay HK has halted services for the League of Social Democrats (LSD) – one of the remaining active pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong – due to unspecified “excessive risks.”

League of Social Democrats chan po ying CGO protest
The League of Social Democrats. File photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

The LSD announced on its Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon that it had received an email from PayPal HK Limited on September 19 about the service termination.

The payment platform was cited as saying “upon review of your account we have determined there to be excessive risks involved,” adding that “[t]his matter has been reviewed at length, and our decision is final.”

PayPal HK has never explained what the “excessive risks” are, according to the LSD.

Chow Ka-fat, the external vice-chairperson of the LSD told HKFP that the group had not been able to accept any new donations via its PayPal account since the day it received the email, but they can still withdraw money from it.

On average, LSD would receive several thousand Hong Kong dollars monthly through PayPal, Chow said, “now we have one less way [to collect donations].”

PayPal. File photo: Wikicommons.

Chow said LSD members were “stunned” when they first learned of the news, but soon realised that “it is meaningless to worry too much.”

“It seems like even when doing business, companies have to think about who they are dealing with in advance,” Chow said. “That sort of business freedom in the past has seemingly gone.”

Apart from losing a way to collect donations online, Chow added that LSD has not been able to raise funds with street booths since last year after some of its members were fined for collecting donations without prior approval from authorities.

HKFP has reached out to PayPal HK for comment.

The LSD is one of the few pro-democracy organisations in Hong Kong that has remained vocal after Beijing’s implementation of the national security law, as more than 50 civil society groups have folded. This year, members of the league were reminded not to “do anything” by national security police before the Handover anniversary, and received police enquiries as to their plans for China’s National Day.

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.