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News News 2020 in Review: The Year in...

2020 in Review: The Year in FCC Zoom Events

Looking back on 2020, it was a year that posed numerous challenges for The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, not least of which was a limited ability to host in-person events. But, like the rest of the world, we adapted to the new normal and found a way to get on with things.

At the FCC, that meant taking our events virtual by turning to Zoom as a way to host guest speakers and panelists including Noam Chomsky, Jiayang Fan, Maria Ressa, John Bolton, Garry Kasparov and many others. While Zoom allowed us to continue planning speaker events in times when social distancing measures prevented them from taking place at the club, it also allowed us to transcend time zones and welcome speakers located all over the world. As a result, you can expect to see plenty more Zoom events happening in 2021.

But first, here’s a look back at the lineup of notable speakers we hosted on Zoom in 2020.

April 29: Ben Cowling

Our first Zoom event of the year featured Professor Ben Cowling, who joined us to discuss Hong Kong’s battle with COVID-19.

May 6: Press Freedom Panel

The pandemic and its effects on press freedom was the focus of this panel discussion featuring Maria Ressa, Hélène Franchineau and Mohammed Hanif.

May 20: The Rt. Hon Lord Patten of Barnes CH

Hong Kong’s last governor joined us to discuss the city’s future in the midst of sweeping changes and increased intervention from the Chinese government.

June 11: Clifford Stott

Professor Clifford Stott, a protest policing expert, explained why he resigned from an international panel appointed by Hong Kong’s police complaints body to investigate the policing of last year’s protests.

June 18: George Floyd Protests Panel

As the George Floyd protests swept across the United States, we invited Amelia Brace and Joel Simon to discuss the threats facing journalists covering the movement.

July 9: Maria Ressa and Caoilfhionn Gallagher

The Rappler CEO and press freedom advocate spoke alongside her international human rights lawyer about Ressa’s conviction in the Philippines on cyber libel charges.

July 15: John Bolton

The day after President Trump signed an executive order ending Hong Kong’s preferential trade treatment, former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said that Hong Kong still enjoyed broad support in the U.S. even as the city’s freedoms were being eroded.

July 20: Jeffrey Sachs

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, an economist and author, warned that improving relations between the U.S. and China was crucial for maintaining global stability in the coming years.

July 30: COVID-19 Infodemic Panel

The rise of disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic was the focus of this panel discussion featuring Kristin Urquiza, Claire Wardel and Alice Budisatrijo.

August 4: Suzanne Nossel

The CEO of PEN America, a nonprofit organisation which defends free expression, spoke about how democracy and freedom are in decline around the world.

August 7: Noam Chomsky

Renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky spoke about the potentially disastrous consequences of relations between the U.S. and China further deteriorating.

August 10: Kishore Mahbubani

The author and Asia scholar said it would be a “huge mistake” for China to eradicate Hong Kong’s unique characteristics.

August 12: Sino-American Relations Panel

Relations between the U.S. and China was the topic of this panel discussion featuring Lingling Wei, Mary E. Gallagher and Bonnie Glaser, who agreed that a Biden presidency could improve the situation.

August 18: Stan Grant

Author and journalist Stan Grant shared his experiences of racism growing up and discussed what the Black Lives Matters movement means to indigenous Australians.

August 27: Garry Kasparov

The former chess world champion turned democracy campaigner said it would be wise for Hong Kong’s leading pro-democracy activists to leave the city to avoid facing prison or worse.

September 2: Admiral Bill Owens

The former top U.S. military official claimed that Taiwan’s political status was the greatest threat to the already tense relationship between China and the U.S.

September 8: Brian Stetler

The host of CNN’s Reliable Sources warned that Fox News could cause “enormous damage” on election night in the United States.

September 15: Joseph Stiglitz

The Nobel Prize winner and professor predicted that the U.S. and China would enjoy greater cooperation if Joe Biden were to win the presidential election.

September 22: Ben Bland

The author of a biography of Indonesian president Joko Widodo said that Widodo’s “lack of leadership” had caused Indonesia’s struggle with containing COVID-19.

October 5: China & Hollywood Panel

China’s influence on Hollywood was discussed by panelists James Tager, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and Rebecca Davis, who said that the greed of America’s film industry was leading to increased self-censorship in a bid to reach Chinese audiences.

October 7: Rana Mitter

The author and China scholar spoke at length about how “wolf warrior” diplomacy has hurt the PRC’s global reputation.

October 12: Sebastian Strangio

The Southeast Asia editor of The Diplomat said that the response to the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated a trend: the “image of both the United States and China are suffering in Southeast Asia.”

October 15: U.S. Election/Disinformation Panel

Weeks before the U.S. presidential elections, panelists Craig Silverman, Elyse Samuels and Thomas Kent agreed that election-related disinformation had reached an all-time high.

October 20: Jiayang Fan

A staff writer at The New Yorker, Jiayang Fan spoke to us about her blockbuster cover story “How My Mother and I Became Chinese Propaganda.”

October 22: The Future of COVID-19 Panel (Dr. Sarah Borwein, Prof. Ivan Hung, Prof. John Nicholls)

With winter on the horizon, we invited Dr. Sarah Borwein, Professor Ivan Hung and Professor John Nicholls to share their predictions for the future of the coronavirus pandemic in Hong Kong and around the world.

November 10: Ambassador Kurt Tong

Shortly after the presidential election, the former U.S. consul general in Hong Kong spoke about what the world could expect from the Biden presidency.

November 20: The Biden Administration & China Panel

Discussing the upcoming Biden administration’s approach to China, panelists Bonnie Glaser and Tom Orlik said it would be characterised by competition and cooperation.

November 23: Mara Hvistendahl

The investigative reporter discussed her second book, The Scientist and the Spy, which recounts the story of a Chinese-born scientist who was caught trying to steal genetically modified corn seeds from a field in Iowa.

November 24: Mark Thompson

With RTHK coming under increasing criticism from the government, former BBC Director-General and New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson spoke about the challenges facing public broadcasters in Hong Kong and around the world.

December 9: Michael Palin

An accomplished actor, writer and traveller, Monty Python star Michael Palin issued a full-throated defence of comedy’s importance as a form of free speech.

December 10: Alan Rusbridger

Amateur reporters can play as vital a role in news gathering as trained professionals and it is not up to governments or the police to decide who is a journalist, said former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

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