Hong Kong protesters raise £1.5m in a day to fund global ad campaign
A crowdfunding campaign launched by protesters in Hong Kong has raised more than £1.5m in less than 24 hours.
Organisers say it will be used to raise awareness of the protests in the UK and the US.
The campaign, which was started on 11 August, has raised $1,908,980 (£1,580,635) – almost double its initial goal of $1m (£830,000).
The group responsible for the campaign, which calls itself Freedom Hong Kong, says the money will be used to fund a “worldwide advertisement campaign on 17 August”.
The campaign – the third organised by the group, which also goes by the name Stand With Hong Kong – is being hosted on American crowdfunding site GoFundMe.
An anonymous spokesperson for Freedom Hong Kong told Sky News: “This platform allows donors to contribute to our cause anonymously due to a perceived possibility of retribution from state machinery.
“The success of our crowdfunding campaigns highlights the burning desire of many Hongkongers to elevate our cause onto an international level.”
A previous GoFundMe campaign calling for funds to advertise in the United Kingdom raised £319,513 earlier in the month.
The money was used to buy adverts in UK publications including the Evening Standard, The New Statesman and The Guardian calling on the British government to “declare a Chinese breach against the Sino-British Joint Declaration”.
The Sino-British Joint declaration is a treaty, signed by the UK and China in 1984, which guaranteed that “the city’s rights and freedoms would be protected” for 50 years.
Freedom Hong Kong has also advertised on social media.
According to data released by Facebook, the Freedom Hong Kong group has spent £13,729 on ads in the last 30 days.
The ads call on UK citizens to sign a petition to “Tell your MP to stand up for the rights of all Hongkongers.”
Another crowdfunding campaign aiming to publish an open letter in international newspapers at the time of the G20 Osaka summit raised over £700,000 in nine hours, according to the organisers.
The digital campaign is just one part of the online battle being waged alongside increasingly volatile street protests.
Protesters use discussion forum LIHKG to plan protests, then rely on encrypted app Telegram to communicate during them.
The anonymous spokesperson added: “Technology has been very important for protesters to anticipate and meet each others’ needs.
“And of course, protesters have used technology to share informational resources in various languages to let the world know how Hong Kong is doing.
“But of course technology can be a double-edged sword.
“Hongkongers remain concerned that the government may enact an internet shutdown, following reports of DDOS and hacking attacks of various platforms.
“Given that Hong Kong is an international finance centre, an internet shutdown over a long period of time is unlikely but we can certainly see it forming part of police tactics during clashes.”
As soon as the crowdfunding campaign reached its goal, some pro-China websites accused its organisers of working for foreign governments.
The Dimsum Daily website reported that the domain owner of the Freedom Hong Kong website was registered in the US, warning as a result that “these student protesters may be without their knowledge used as tools by the powerful nation to achieve their own agendas”.
According to the protesters, the website appears to be registered in the US as it uses a service called Privacy Guardian to protect the organisers’ identity.