Hong Kong National Party is born: will push for independence, will not recognise the Basic Law
Hong Kong National Party could be on thin ice with mainland authorities after declaring it will not recognise the Basic Law
A new group appearing to be at the extreme end of the localism movement is setting up a party to turn Hong Kong into an independent republic, swiftly inviting scepticism across the political divide.
Calling itself the Hong Kong National Party, the group said it would not recognise the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, a stance that could have it mired in legal trouble.
Led by former Occupy Central activist Chan Ho-tin, the National Party will use “whatever effective means” available to push for independence, including fielding candidates in the Legislative Council elections in September and co-ordinating with other pro-independence localist groups.
“Staging marches or shouting slogans is obviously useless now. Regarding using violence, we would support it if it is effective to make us heard,” said Chan at a press conference he conducted alone on Monday at a flat in a Tuen Mun factory building.
He claimed the party was funded entirely by the donations of its 50-plus members, mostly university students and young activists.
Its emergence comes amid a rising tide of localism, encouraged by the unexpectedly credible showing of localist candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei in last month’s Legco by-election.
In calling for outright independence, the new group is at the extreme end of the political spectrum. By comparison, a new party being set up by former core leaders of the now-suspended student group Scholarism has stopped short of advocating independence, despite the call for “self-determination by Hong Kong people”.
Five other localists, who are planning to vie for seats in the September elections, also only claim they would seek a referendum for Hongkongers to decide how to amend the Basic Law.
Some pro-establishment figures have warned against taking the latest group too lightly.
Lau Nai-keung, a member of the influential Basic Law Committee, said: “Perhaps the Hong Kong government has been too tolerant about such lousy calls for independence. It is flatly against the Basic Law. I am not sure why we should let it exist.”
Article One of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong “is an inalienable part of” China.
Political affairs observer Dr James Sung Lap-kung of City University doubted if a party that explicitly advocated independence could survive for long. “It is totally against the mainstream political sentiment here. I would be surprised it is able to secure financial sources or sufficient donations to sustain its operation.”
Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, a lawyer, doubted if such a party could get proper registration under Hong Kong laws. Under the present ordinance, a company name will not be registered if, in the registrar’s opinion, its use would constitute a criminal offence, or it is offensive or otherwise contrary to the public interest.
“Even if you register it under another name and operate it with the party name, the government can de-register your company,” said To.
Meanwhile, Edward Leung of the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous welcomed Chan’s party and hoped to have closer co-operation.
But Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan, convenor of an alliance of 23 pan-democrats, tried to keep a distance. “Regardless of whether they advocate for independence or not, it would depend on their work plan,” she said.
Newly appointed Executive Councillor Ip Kwok-him, of the city’s leading pro-establishment party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, doubted the party would gain widespread public support.
“Independence would destroy the city. It would neither be accepted by the central government nor the public,” he said.