Journalists in Hong Kong defy gov't request to cancel speech

HONG KONG (AP) — A journalists' association in Hong Kong says it will defy the Chinese government and follow through with a planned speech by an activist advocating independence from China.

China's foreign ministry asked the Foreign Correspondents Club to cancel a talk by Andy Chan of the Hong Kong National Party. The request raised questions about Beijing's growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy and freedom of speech as part of a 1997 handover arrangement.

Current and former Hong Kong leaders have criticized the FCC for hosting Chan, whose party is facing a possible ban on national security grounds.

The FCC said in a statement Monday it believes in "hearing the views of different sides in any debate" and will continue with the event.