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Rise Conference calls out of 2022 event citing COVID-19 fears

A major tech conference scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in March has been canceled and will return in 2023, organizers said Thursday, a further blow to an international business center that has adopted the “zero-Covid” strategy of the China.

The annual RISE conference brings together CEOs, startups and investors and has been held in Hong Kong since 2015.

In a brief statement, the organizers said they chose to postpone because “the uncertainties caused by the pandemic have continued”.

The move came after organizers reversed their choice of venue, announcing last December that he would abandon Hong Kong for Malaysia before reversing their decision nine months later.

RISE initially said moving to Kuala Lumpur would expand the event’s presence in Southeast Asia.

But as Malaysia faced a new wave of Covid-19 cases this summer, the company behind the event said it was “no longer feasible” to keep it in the country.

At the time, RISE CEO Paddy Cosgrave said the conference “still intends to return to Hong Kong at some point,” citing past successes in the city.

But while Hong Kong has managed to keep coronavirus infections at bay, its largely closed borders and lengthy quarantine rules have made it a difficult place to host international conferences for a whole different set of reasons.

Most newcomers have to undergo at least three weeks of hotel quarantine, and a growing number of countries with high numbers of Omicron variants even have to spend one of those weeks in a government camp.

RISE’s evolving relationship with Hong Kong has drawn attention at a time when big tech companies worry about Beijing’s crackdown on dissent in the financial hub.

Hong Kong has long enjoyed more online freedoms than mainland China, which has the world’s most sophisticated internet censorship network.

But a national security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing last year gave authorities new controls, including internet opt-out powers.

RISE has previously said its choice of venues had nothing to do with Hong Kong politics.

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