The National security police in Hong Kong have recently blocked the website and hacked into the servers of the Taiwan Presbyterian Church after it collected funds to help pro-democracy citizens flee China's communist rule, a report reveals.
According to church member Hwang Chun-sheng, the platform has been blocked for a week and its database has been compromised, Radio Free Asia reported on Monday.
"It's pretty pointless just shutting down our public website; it's just tedious, and really it's all about scoring a big propaganda point with the domestic audience [in mainland China]," said Hwang.
"But it is also an indicator of the mainlandization of Hong Kong ... maybe Hong Kong will be next [to be put behind the Great Firewall]," he added.
According to the governing Chinese Communist Party's (CCP)-controlled Wei Wei Po newspaper, the Presbyterian Church had initiated a fund-raising drive to assist citizens attempting to escape after the revolution.
"The Taiwan Presbyterian Church expressed support for rioters during the turmoil in Hong Kong over the [extradition] law, and was also implicated in investigations by the national security division of the Hong Kong Police Force into radio talk show host Giggs,"states the paper.
Wan Siu-yin, also identified as Giggs, was detained on suspicion of "seditious motive" for remarks he made on online radio shows he hosted between August and October 2020.
After publicizing the fund-raising effort on his show, Wan, 52, was charged with "acting with seditious motive" in the online programs he hosted last year.
"In the event of a crime that endangers national security, the service provider may be required to remove [content or access to content] with the approval of the secretary for security," the Wei Wei Po wrote, quoting Hong Kong's national security legislation, which prohibits public dissent or peaceful resistance to the authorities as of July 1, 2020.
What the Taiwanese church has been up to
More than H.K.$10 million (US$1.29 million) was collected via the crowdfunding program, with H.K.$4 million being credited to the Taiwan church's bank account.
The church was defined as an "advocate of independence for Taiwan" by the article, a term used by the CCP to identify someone who disputes the party's claim to the island, which has never been a part of the People's Republic of China or under its jurisdiction.
According to Hwang, the church is now using VPNs and cryptography to communicate with activists in Hong Kong, as daily email and Facebook Messenger are too vulnerable.
He said the church has been helping Hongkongers who migrated to Taiwan to seek higher education in order to escape consequences for their participation in the 2019 demonstrations, but who have now run out of funds and are unable to return home. "
We try not to let them drop out after a year and find ways to keep them in their study programs," Hwang said. "We find jobs for some of the students.
Taiwan, meanwhile, has confirmed that it would tighten the requirements for Hong Kong citizens applying for its permanent residency card, forcing them to stay in the city for two years before applying.
The news comes after reports stating how the Hong Kong government threatened "consequences" to countries who provide asylum for those fleeing Chinese communist rule.