The protests that have convulsed this city for nearly three months have lacked any clear leadership in a bid to sustain momentum should any of their organizers be threatened with jail.
Speaking at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club on 14 August 2018, shortly before his political party was banned, Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) spokesperson Andy Chan pointedly drew parallels between developments in Hong Kong and those in East Turkestan [Xinjiang] and Tibet. That comparison smacks of hyperbole. As the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office noted in its latest six-monthly report on Hong Kong, the territory “continues to be a prosperous and vibrant city” – a world away from the concentration camps of Xinjiang. Nor is Chan – who previously declared armed insurrection a possible way forward for his party – a particularly compelling advocate.
A fringe pro-independence party and a historic journalists’ club have been thrust into the forefront of the intensifying battle over free speech and the rule of law in Hong Kong, a semi- autonomous Chinese territory that has long prided itself on its civic freedoms.
A tiny and previously little-known political party with no presence in the legislature would have languished on the fringes of Hong Kong’s political sphere were it not for attempts by the city’s government to crush the group.
Now, the Hong Kong National Party finds itself in the limelight, raised to an unaccustomed level of prominence in a dispute that is fast becoming a test for the city’s autonomy.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s government threatened to ban Chan’s pro-independence National Party, a move unprecedented since the city’s return to Chinese rule in 1997. Andy Chan talked about China's plan to limit speech.
In their recommendation to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) on Tuesday, the legal grounding cited by the police was the Societies Ordinance. They told the government that there was a sufficiently strong case in the interests of “national security, public safety, public order, protection of freedom and rights of others” for the security secretary to ban the embattled group.