Appears my 2019 analysis was correctHas anyone looked into this "Freedom HKG" organization that bought the ads?
Doing a simple "WHOIS" search online (FreedomHKG.net) shows that it was registered June 26
The crowdfunding page was established on June 24
My Chinese is not the best, but on their crowdfunding page, I believe it asks not to donate via PayPal because of anti money laundering preventing fund transfer.
Also on the crowdfunding page, it says that they were buying NYT full page ad for $200,000.
The ad was published by June 27
How is it possible that the ad would be published so quickly?
If the money was instantly collected, the earliest day funds could be transferred is July 1
Furthermore, I imagine that NYT requires approval and payment ahead of time for an ad, which would mean it would need to be done at least the 25th (This is a logical deduction since the paper printed on the 27th would be printed on the 26th, which is even before the website was established) This doesn't even include the time it would take to design the ad.
Now it could be possible that the payment was made before the crowdfunding, but what kind of "ordinary group of volunteers" (according to SCMP site:
My research did not include looking at "LIHKG" in detail due to my lack of Chinese proficiency, so perhaps I missed something there.
Anyhow, TL;DR, the amount of money and speed of publishing almost guarantees state actors being involved.