POLITICS

Hong Kong 'localist' groups seek inspiration from academic's book

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2015, 2:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 September, 2015, 11:23pm

Radical groups seeking either independence for Hong Kong or a limit on Beijing's influence in local affairs have emerged in recent years - with some gaining prominence in the last few months, while others have been lobbying for more than a decade.

These groups have come under renewed scrutiny this week following the alleged involvement of a "localist" group called the National Independent Party in a suspected plot to bomb targets on Hong Kong Island.

"Localist" has become an umbrella term for radical groups defined by an anti-mainland sentiment and a desire to resist Beijing's influence over the city.

Many of the groups appeared after the 2011 publication of Hong Kong as a City-state by academic Horace Chin Wan-kan, who teaches Chinese at Lingnan University

The book was seen as key to the groundswell of radical political philosophies imbued with the anti-mainland sentiment.

Chin, also known as Chin Wan, is considered by many as the godfather of "localism" and is himself the head of Hong Kong Resurgence, which uses the slogan "Conserve Hong Kong" and advocates a desire to "revive Hong Kong's golden age".

Typically, these groups harness social media platforms to espouse their political philosophy.

One of the newest groups is Hong Kong Indigenous, which formed in January and gained prominence during sometimes violent protests against cross-border traders in Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin.

Another group, the Hong Kong Independence Party, was created last year and formally registered as a political party in the Britain earlier this year.

The group's leader, Wong Kin-chung, and two other key members, Lau Tat-hang and Daniel Ma, were reportedly followers of Chin's work.

Their main aim is to support those fighting for self-determination and "helping them in the process of nation-building and returning to the British Commonwealth".

Another group called Hong Kong Localism Power started in 2011 with its mission statement clearly expanding on Chin's philosophy: "To speak for Hongkongers; to safeguard local culture; to protect Hongkongers' interests; to resist culture cleansing; and to call for a division between mainland and Hong Kong," according to the group's Facebook page.

One of the older groups is Hong Konger Front, which was formed in 2004 and seeks to create a "Republic of Hong Kong".

Another group, the now defunct Hongkongers Come First, was started in April 2013 and is best known through one of its members, Billy Chiu Hin-chung. Chiu was given a suspended jail sentence last year for entering the PLA's barracks in Central in 2013.