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Hong Kong localism and independence

Localist group Demosisto should be outlawed like Hong Kong National Party for its self-determination calls, Beijing adviser Priscilla Leung says

Basic Law Committee member says promoting city’s self-determination is no different to calling for independence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 September, 2018, 6:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 1:23pm

Localist group Demosisto should be banned in the same way as the separatist Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) for advocating self-determination, according to a member of the Basic Law Committee, which advises the Chinese government on the city’s mini-constitution.

The group, co-founded by Occupy movement icon Joshua Wong Chi-fung, said it would not be deterred by such calls.

Speaking after a televised forum on Sunday, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said promoting the city’s self-determination was no different to calling for independence.

“In the context of international law, self-determination is only applicable to sovereign countries … Hong Kong is not an independent sovereign,” she said.

“Self-determination, advocated by these political parties … is equivalent to advocating independence of Hong Kong.”

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Leung, a legislator and associate law professor at City University, also slammed the Hong Kong government for being too “cowardly” against groups pushing for self-determination or independence.

In an unprecedented ban of a separatist party, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu last Monday outlawed the HKNP on national security and public order grounds under the Societies Ordinance.

While acknowledging the HKNP had not used violence, Lee argued the party had vowed to use “all effective means” to achieve Hong Kong independence.

Demosisto chairman Ivan Lam Long-yin on Sunday said it was not the first time the pro-establishment camp had tried to align his group with those advocating independence.

“As we have said before, we do not advocate Hong Kong independence,” Lam said.

He admitted pressure from the pro-establishment camp could pose risks to his party but said Demosisto would carry on with its activism as usual.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, chairman of the opposition Civic Party, warned that every pro-democracy group in Hong Kong could be at risk.

“What if those in power suddenly do not like those who chant the slogan ‘Down with one-party rule’? The red line can be moved at their pleasure,” Leong said at the forum.

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Leong, a barrister, was referring to slogans frequently chanted by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which calls for an end to Chinese Communist Party rule.

During the forum, speakers also discussed whether sharing the HKNP’s social media posts should be considered illegal.

The last time the party posted on its Facebook account was early this month.

Police had asked Facebook to take down the account, but the call went unanswered.

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Lee, citing the Societies Ordinance on Monday, warned that anyone who associated with the party by serving the group, taking part in gatherings, providing financial assistance or any aid could be liable on conviction to a fine and a jail sentence of two to three years.

He refused to make clear if the sharing of HKNP posts was allowed. But Leung said on Sunday that such acts should be considered illegal, as it was a way of aiding the party.

University of Hong Kong legal scholar Eric Cheng Tat-ming said Leung’s definition of giving aid was too broad. Citizens would not be violating the law by sharing old posts made by the party, he said.

Leung joined the 12-member Basic Law panel, which comes under China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, in June. The committee gives input on any interpretations or amendments to the Basic Law.