We pay the price of Andy Chan’s free speech

All the National Party boss has done is give Beijing the perfect excuse to toughen its hardline stance on Hong Kong with a security law

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2018, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 1:28pm

Beijing and its political allies in Hong Kong like to castigate the foreign press for its biased anti-China reports. It’s not always true. Some Western publications do get it right, sometimes. In its profile of Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) boss Andy Chan Ho-tin, Time magazine has his number. I couldn’t have put it better.

“Charisma-free, [Chan] was unable to describe the road map by which Hong Kong could achieve independence or defend itself against China,” it wrote.

“He offered no picture of what an independent Hong Kong might look and feel like, who its international allies might be, who would lead it, or how that leader might be chosen.

“He could not name an author or a historical Hong Kong figure who inspired him politically … Neither could he offer any dramatic account of political awakening or the coalescing of a Hong Kong identity.”

In a word, the guy is as clueless as they come. This doesn’t mean his fight for Hong Kong independence is insignificant – for the opposite reason. He offers the perfect excuse for Beijing to toughen its hardline stance on Hong Kong.

Why separatist Andy Chan can't be charged under current Hong Kong law

Time continued: “Many Hongkongers who want greater autonomy fear that the HKNP will simply court Beijing’s fury and make things more difficult for the city’s democratic movement, which, in the main, is not campaigning for independence but simply for a system of genuine universal suffrage and for Hong Kong to be given the right to elect its leader.

“Some have even asked if Chan is an agent provocateur – or the dupe of agents provocateurs.”

Sure enough, the ink had barely dried on the magazine pages when Zhang Xiaoming, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, issued the strongest official warning yet on the city’s obligation to enact a national security law.

There is no good outcome for Hong Kong. It either means a national security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law and an inevitably damaging political battle leading to it. Or, as is already happening, the government will stretch the meanings of national security, public safety and public order under existing laws such as their provisions under Section 8 of the Societies Ordinance, to crack down on anti-China activities.

No Hong Kong government can long ignore pressure from the central government on the national security front – especially when some foolish locals are providing them with the perfect excuse.