Premier Li Keqiang’s warning on Hong Kong independence highlights Beijing’s displeasure, party mouthpiece says

Politicians who challenge law will pay the price, according to editorial on social media account run by People’s Daily overseas edition staff

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 2:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 3:04pm

Premier Li Keqiang’s remark on Hong Kong independence in his work report highlights Beijing’s displeasure at developments in the city, according to a commentary run by the official newspaper of the Communist Party.

The editorial on Xiakedao, a social media account operated by People’s Daily overseas edition staff, was titled “Groundbreaking! Premier’s working report highlights ‘Hong Kong independence’ for the first time”. It criticised Hong Kong activists such as Occupy Central’s Joshua Wong Chi-fung for running political groups that did not openly call for separatism but were in essence working in that direction.

“Hong Kong independence advocates finally got the achievement of being singled out in the black and white documents of the central government,” the article said. “Just don’t feel proud about it – this is not ‘giving face’ and giving you exposure but an expression of displeasure.”

Premier Li Keqiang sounds warning on Hong Kong independence

On Sunday, the premier unprecedentedly warned in his work report that the movement would “lead nowhere” while reiterating Beijing’s commitment to the principle of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, without it being “bent or distorted”.

The commentator said Occupy student leaders such as Wong and Alex Chow Yong-kang had transformed themselves into “young scholars who hoped to study declassified records in the United Kingdom, United States and Taiwan to dig up historical basis for so-called ‘self-determination’”.

This culminated in pro-independence advocates Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching being elected as lawmakers and subsequently disqualified by the court.

The article dismissed suggestions that the force of separatism in Hong Kong was exaggerated. Such groups were “scheming and distorting the concept of ‘localism’ to collude with foreign influences to break the law with violent means and to take part in politics”, it said.

“All in all, this is no longer paper talk.”

Politicians who dared to challenge the law in pursuit of independence would have to pay the price, it warned.

The piece also dismissed the idea that the independence movement in Hong Kong was gradually colluding with the one in Taiwan and would eventually become a strong force. The writer said such a viewpoint lacked confidence and strategic thinking.