Hong Kong independence advocates plan June 30 rally despite ‘zero tolerance’ warning
National Party convenor says gathering in Tsim Sha Tsui will be peaceful
A pro-independence group plans to hold a rally to “mourn” the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover to China, despite a warning by the head of the central government’s liaison office that Beijing will show “zero tolerance” to those advocating separatism.
Andy Chan Ho-tin, convenor for the Hong Kong National Party, said the rally near the clock tower at Tsim Sha Tsui on the night of June 30 would be a peaceful one to unite independence supporters and localists.
“We mourn the 20th anniversary of the fall of Hong Kong,” said Chan, who was last year disqualified from running for a seat in the Legislative Council.
“The government is doing everything to make July 1 a day of celebrations and present a picture that everyone here welcomes Chinese rule. But we want to offer another view – we are not happy with the Chinese rule.”
He has applied for a letter of no objection to police for the event, but said he had not heard anything so far.
A police spokesman said officers were looking into the application and would make a decision in accordance with procedure.
President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Hong Kong to mark the anniversary of thereturn to Chinese rule.
Police are ramping up security measures ahead of his visit, deploying 10,000 officers and erecting water-filled plastic barricades at key sites in an attempt to prevent disturbances.
Chan founded his party last year, claiming it was funded entirely by the donations of its 50-plus members, mostly university students and young activists.
He, along with several other localists, was disqualified from Legco elections last July after refusing to sign a new additional declaration form that acknowledged Hong Kong as being an inalienable part of China.
Meanwhile, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the liaison office, said in an interview with China Central Television that a small group of pro-independence advocates were testing the patience of Beijing.
“Zero tolerance is necessary,” he warned.
Zhang also said that while he felt the “one country, two systems” formula had been successful over the past 20 years,he had one regret – society had a tendency to politicise matters.
As a result, this had delayed national security legislation and distracted the government from focusing on improving the economy and people’s livelihoods.
Zhou Nan, who performed the role of Zhang before the handover, also spoke to RTHK about independence.
The former director of Xinhua News Agency, the forerunner of the liaison office before 1997, said he was not surprised about the rise of independence ideas because four or five generations of Hongkongers had been “brainwashed” by the British.
Zhou said those who opposed the introduction of national education lessons in schools had essentially“deprived” people of the right to learn about China.
He agreed that a national security law should be passed as soon as possible.