The Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association in a statement has warned against any attempt to block apps like Telegram, saying it would be “the end of the open internet of Hong Kong” and would permanently deter international businesses.

They issued the statement overnight after some media reports said that the government may use executive orders to tell service providers to selectively stop some applications.

The association said such bans “would not deter nor stop determined users” as they could still access them via VPN services. It said “until we finally put the whole of Hong Kong behind a large-scale surveillance firewall”, it would not have the desired effect.

They said Hong Kong has more than a hundred data centres operated by local and International companies, and it also transits more than 80 percent of mainland traffic. “All these successes rely on the openness of Hong Kong’s network,” it said.

The association also recalled that Facebook and its Libra blockchain venture with a one billion dollar initial investment decided not to choose Hong Kong but more accommodating Singapore as their landing point.

“Network censorship will only accelerate the loss of Hong Kong to competing cities,” it said.