Hong Kong Threatens to Bar Party Advocating Independence

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Hong Kong policemen cordon off an area following clashes in February 2016. The government threatened to bar formation of a political party advocating independence from China.

Photographer: Dale de la Rey/AFP via Getty Images
  • Beijing says party would violate Constitution, Basic Law
  • New party part of growing movement critical of Chinese control

The Hong Kong government threatened to bar formation of a political party advocating independence from China, adding to tensions over Beijing’s control of the city before legislative elections in September.

Hong Kong is an “inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China” and any movement that advocates independence violates the city’s stability and the Basic Law, the city’s de-facto constitution, the government said in a statement on its website. The government will "take action according to law" to deal with any attempt by a political party to push for independence, the statement said.

The government’s comments came after the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, a branch of the Chinese government, said that any political party advocating Hong Kong’s independence marks "a severe violation" of both the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law. "This is absolutely out of the question," the office’s deputy director Wang Zhimin said Wednesday. The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said the Hong Kong government has already refused the party’s registration.

A new group calling itself the Hong Kong National Party is openly calling for independence as part of the growing “localism” movement in the city where political division has deepened after the 2014 pro-democracy protests. The Occupy movement, as it was known, failed to win concessions after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets for nearly 80 days to protest Beijing’s plan to determine the candidates for election of the city’s chief executive.

Former leaders of the now-suspended student group Scholarism, a key organizer of the Occupy protests, are also setting up a new party to field candidates for the September election when all 70 seats of the Legislative Council will be contested. That new formation is only calling for "self-determination by Hong Kong people." Five other localist candidates are campaigning for a referendum on amending the Basic Law to allow more autonomy.

The Basic Law was adopted in 1990 by the Chinese government as it prepared to gain control of the city in 1997 after more than 150 years as a British colony. Article 1 of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong "is an ­inalienable part of" China.

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