Hong Kong localism and independence

Democrats vow to fight for greatest self-determination for Hong Kong, but reject independence

Largest pan-democrat party in Legislative Council rejects violence but says it understands rise in ‘violent or radical resistance’ in recent years

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 June, 2017, 9:15pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 June, 2017, 10:50pm

The Democratic Party has vowed to fight for “self-determination to the greatest extent” for Hong Kong, although it flatly rejects calls for Hong Kong independence.

The party also says it rejects “any form of violence” in pursuing democracy, while saying it appreciates why there has been a rise in “violent or radical resistance” in recent years.

The party spelled out its stance on a range of political issues in a 16-page report released on Sunday after a review of the city’s democratic movement since the 1980s and the implementation of the “one country, two systems” policy after the 1997 handover.

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The document reads: “The Democratic Party will not allow Hong Kong to move towards ‘one country, one system’. Nor will we support Hong Kong independence. We believe that we should strive for self-determination to the greatest extent under the current framework of [recognising China’s] sovereignty.”

Without naming any party, the Democratic Party also rejected the idea of having a referendum for Hongkongers to decide whether the city should cut ties with mainland China, calling it a “political gamble with extremely high risk”. Such an idea has been put forward by Demosisto, a political party led by former student activist Nathan Law Kwun-chung.

The Democratic Party is the biggest pro-democracy party in the Legislative Council with seven seats. It has more than 600 members.

The document was released at a seminar hosted by the party on the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover.

Most speakers were from the pan-democrat camp. They criticised Beijing for not respecting the “one country, two systems” policy by imposing tighter control over Hong Kong in recent years.

One speaker, Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming said: “It has now become the Communist Party ruling Hong Kong.”

The only pro-establishment speaker, lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee of the New People’s Party, argued that increasing calls for independence, as well as the city’s failure to enact a national security law, had caused Beijing to adjust its policies on Hong Kong.

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Representatives of various pan-democratic groups told the seminar they had to learn more about Beijing and its politics to advance the democratic movement.

Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan said: “We can’t knock down China. China is getting stronger. We need to ask ourselves if our democratic movement is aimed at destroying a giant. We should get to know more about China. We are not making a revolution. We have no army, no weapon. So, what is our democratic movement aimed at?”

Raphael Wong Ho-ming of the League of Social Democrats agreed. “It seems Beijing knows us much more than we know it. Without an understanding of your opponent, how can you tackle it?”