The legal status of a new party campaigning for Hong Kong’s independence from the mainland is appearing increasingly untenable, with the government warning of possible legal action against “all cases where Basic Law issues or potential criminal labilities may arise”. The Department of Justice made these first official comments on the new Hong Kong National Party as a pro-establishment solicitor yesterday pressed the government for a response. Leaders of the newly-established party have stated outright that they reject the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. Hong Kong National Party is born: will push for independence, will not recognise the Basic Law In its statement yesterday, a spokesman for the Department of Justice cited Basic Law and said Hong Kong was an inalienable part of China. “Any suggestion that Hong Kong should be independent or any movement to advocate such independence would not be consistent with the legal status of Hong Kong ... or the Basic Law. Nor would such suggestion or movement be conducive to the overall interests of [Hong Kong]. “As in all cases where Basic Law issues or potential criminal liabilities may arise, the Department of Justice will maintain close liaison with the relevant law enforcement agencies, and will take such action as may be necessary.” Yesterday, Wong Tai Sin district councillor and lawyer Maggie Chan Man-ki went further when she urged Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung to clarify the legal position of the party. She cited the preamble of the Basic Law which states that “Hong Kong has been part of the territory of China since ancient times” and Article One which also says Hong Kong “is an inalienable part of” China. “I urge the Secretary for Justice to clarify the legal viewpoints concerning the illegality and unconstitutionality of advocating Hong Kong independence”, said Chan. But barrister and former legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah dismissed Chan’s claims, saying talking about independence without taking any action was protected by freedom of speech. Democratic Party lawmaker and solicitor Albert Ho Chun-yan added that merely advocating for independence was not tantamount to a criminal offence. Ho said: “Seditious intention has to include a tendency to incite violence or an intention to create public disorder.” Hong Kong National Party convenor Chan Ho-tin has said he was prepared for the consequences. “Once on board the boat, I would not be afraid,” he said. Rejecting claims that calling for independence was illegal, he added: “It is not that we advocate independence, it is Hong Kong people who want to break from China.” On the party’s official registration with the Companies Registry, a party spokesman said an adviser told them it could be problematic but they were trying to find a way out. She declined to give details.