Eight business groups yesterday issued a statement condemning the Occupy Central movement's alleged connection with Taiwanese independence advocates and its plan to blockade the finance district, saying such a "reckless act" could harm "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong.
The joint statement added to pressure on the civil disobedience movement, which has tried over the past week to downplay a meeting between its key organiser and a Taiwanese politician seen by Beijing as an advocate of independence for the island.
Shih Ming-teh, a former chairman of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, met pan-democrats - including Occupy Central core organiser Reverend Chu Yiu-ming - in Taipei on October 19. Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy, and Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan were also present.
"The business sector is deeply worried about the external influence brought to the Occupy Central plan, which could harm 'one country, two systems' and Hong Kong's economic prosperity," the statement read. "It is a reckless … act, which we oppose."
The statement was signed by four business federations - the General Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries (FHKI) and the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong - as well as the Real Estate Developers Association, the Chinese Importers' and Exporters' Association and two other business groups.
FHKI chairman Stanley Lau Chin-ho said the involvement of Taiwanese independence advocates prompted the business sector to join forces and speak up.
"Hong Kong people can tolerate an ordinary protest, but it can quickly turn to dangerous chaos if extremists, like those who support Taiwanese independence, are involved," he said.
Last Saturday, University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting insisted he did not support Taiwanese independence. It was Tai who first mooted the idea of 10,000 protesters blocking the roads in Central next summer if there was no satisfactory plan for full democracy for the 2017 chief executive election.
"Maybe we are not [politically] sensitive enough," he said, adding the controversy stemmed from "a misunderstanding".
The Legislative Council's Beijing-loyalist members last week condemned the plan. It was also revealed that a Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong delegation had met DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan in 2008.