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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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Tech giants' China face-off risks sparking exodus from Hong Kong

Firms such as Microsoft and Zoom suspended data requests from the local government.

Facebook Inc., Google and Twitter—all of which are blocked in the mainland—are now headed toward a showdown with China that could end up making Hong Kong feel more like Beijing.

Hours after Hong Kong announced sweeping new powers to police the Internet on Monday night, those companies plus the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Zoom Video Communications all suspended requests for data from the Hong Kong government. ByteDance’s TikTok, which has Chinese owners, announced it would pull its viral video app from the territory’s mobile stores in the coming days even as President Donald Trump threatened to ban it in the US.

Their dilemma is stark: bend to the law and infuriate Western nations increasingly at odds with China over political freedoms, or simply refuse and depart like Google did in China a decade ago over some of the very same issues. Much like that seismic event shook the mainland in 2010, Big Tech’s reaction now could have a much wider impact on Hong Kong’s future as a financial hub.

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