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Web Summit cancels next year's Rise conference over tension in Hong Kong

Manish Singh
HONG KONG , Hong Kong - 11 July 2019; Raman Hui, Animator, Film director and Member, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, left, and Ellen Poon, Visual Effects Supervisor & Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee member, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, on Centre Stage during day three of RISE 2019 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The ongoing tension in Hong Kong between the government and pro-democracy protesters continues to spill into the tech domain.

Rise, which is among the largest tech conferences in Asia, will not run next year as planned due to "the ongoing situation in Hong Kong," according to Web Summit, the Ireland-based company that organizes the show.

The organizer said it is postponing the sixth edition of its annual conference, which is held in Hong Kong, to March 2021 from March 2020. Web Summit, which hosts similar large-scale conferences in other parts of the world, made the announcement today in an email to previous attendees. A spokesperson confirmed the veracity of the email to TechCrunch.

“Over recent months, we have been monitoring the ongoing situation in Hong Kong. Our number one concern is the wellbeing, safety, and security of attendees at our events,” it said in a statement.

“Given the uncertainty of the situation by early 2020 and after consulting with experts and advisories, we have decided to postpone RISE until 2021.”

In recent years, Rise has emerged as one of the largest tech conferences in Asia. Some of its recent speakers have included top executives of Uber, Byju’s, Grab, Gojek, Razor and Stripe, as well as many key partners from top VC funds and officials from several governments.

This year, the conference attracted more than 16,000 attendees ranging from the “world’s leading founders, Fortune 500 CEOs, investors, media, and the most promising startups from over 100 countries,” according to official figures provided by Rise.

Web Summit's announcement today comes hours after Clockenflap, the biggest music festival in Hong Kong, was cancelled citing the same reason. American singer-songwriter Halsey, rapper Lil Pump, British band Mumford & Sons and Japanese headbangers Babymetal were set to play at the festival. Several more events have been postponed or cancelled in recent weeks.

Rita Liao contributed to this report.