Hong Kong National Party became the first political group outlawed in Hong Kong since the 1997 handover. The announcement, issued Monday by Secretary for Security John K.C. Lee, invokes a colonial-era public security ordinance introduced in 1911 to muzzle organized crime.he Hong Kong government has officially banned the territory’s first explicitly separatist political party, stirring unease about the further erosion of political freedoms by city authorities under Beijing’s influence. With no elected representation and membership numbering a few dozen at most, Andy Chan’s
Police identified the HKNPas an “imminent threat to national security” in July, recommending that the Security Bureau take action to disband it.
“Even if the political movement has not yet made an attempt to seize power and the danger of its policy is not imminent,” said Rebecca Lam, an assistant police commissioner, “the HKSAR government should take preventative measures as HKNP’s movement has started to take concrete steps in public to implement a goal incompatible with the laws.”
These “concrete steps” amounted to little more than standard recruitment protocol, public appearances, media presence, and public information booths. Chan was barred from running in the 2016 Legislative Council elections after refusing to answer a question about the HKNP’s stance on independence.
In justifying #HK govt ban on @hknationalparty, official gives no evidence to show it was an imminent threat or had actual plans to use violence, as international standards on restrictions to free speech require. https://t.co/0vLidM4pV7
— Kong Tsung-gan / 江松澗 (@KongTsungGan) September 24, 2018
His views were unambiguous, however, in a barn-burning speech at Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents Club in mid-August. “China is by its nature an empire,” he said. “We are a nation that is quickly being annexed and destroyed by China.” Chan submitted a written defense of his party’s activities to the Security Bureau on September 14th, to no avail.
At a press conference on Monday, Secretary for Security Lee reportedly cited the HKNP’s failure to consistently disavow the use of force and its hostility towards mainlanders as primary grounds for the ban. He also sought to preempt claims that Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed government is infringing upon the political freedoms protected under the “one country, two systems” framework.
“I understand residents are concerned about freedom of assembly,” he was quoted as saying by Hong Kong Free Press. “I want to stress that Hong Kong residents have freedom of assembly, but this freedom is not without limits.”
Hong Kong constituents are left wondering how exactly those limits might be defined and who else might soon fall within their purview:
BREAKING: Hong Kong National Party has been officially banned by the SAR government—the first organization to be outlawed in Hong Kong on national security grounds. The burning question on everyone’s mind: where is the line drawn and who’s next? pic.twitter.com/VtWqaaP4cP
— Jason Y. Ng (@jasonyng) September 24, 2018
[Images via SCMP / HKFP]