Wix Apologizes for Removing Website in Support of Hong Kong Democracy

Website hosting company Wix has apologized after removing a Hong Kong pro-democracy site.

The Israel-based company said in an email that the website was taken down by mistake and has since been restored.

Hong Kong opposition leader Nathan Law, a former lawmaker now based in the U.K., said on Twitter Thursday that the Hong Kong police department sent Wix an appeal to take down the pro-democracy site. In the request, police stated that messages on the site were "likely to constitute offences endangering national security and Wix could be prosecuted if it allowed the site to remain.

"We have reviewed our initial screening and have realized that the website never should have been removed and we would like to apologize," Wix said in an email. "We are also reviewing our screening process in order to improve and make sure that mistakes such as this do not repeat in the future."

The site, titled 2021HKcharter.com, was out of service for three days. Hong Kong police have refused to comment on the matter.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Nathan Law
A Hong Kong pro-democracy website was temporarily taken down after police warned the Israel-based hosting company that it breached a national security law, highlighting concerns about aggressive action by authorities in the Chinese city to muzzle online dissent abroad. Nathan Law, a Hong Kong opposition leader based in the U.K., tweeted Thursday, June 3, 2021 that the hosting company, Wix.com, received a request from the Hong Kong police department to disable the 2021 Hong Kong Charter website. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File) Andrew Medichini/AP Photo

By going after a foreign company hosting a website abroad, the Hong Kong police request underlines fears about the lengths to which Chinese authorities are going to squelch dissent with the national security law. The law sparked waves of massive street protests in the former British colony before it was imposed last year and Hong Kong officials used it to justify freezing the assets of a pro-democracy publisher last month.

"It is outrageous that a website advocating democracy, even though it is located outside of China, might be blocked just because China considers it subversive," Law said in a statement posted on Twitter. "It raises the possibility that other websites and online remarks critical of China will be the next targets of Beijing's internet censorship."

The 2021 Hong Kong Charter website was started by activists promoting their fight among overseas Chinese against Beijing's sweeping crackdown on the semi-autonomous Chinese city and changes to its electoral system.

Hong Kong Protest
An artist takes part in a performance art in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on June 3, 2021, to mourn the victims of China's deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown after authorities banned an annual vigil and vowed to stamp out any protests come the anniversary on June 4. Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images