Amid sagging morale of Hong Kong’s pro-independence groups and increased restrictions on their freedoms, city police have initiated steps to ban Hong Kong National Party (HKNP).
This is the toughest step to be taken by Beijing against a political party since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China is tightening its control over the semi-autonomous region especially after Xi Jinping was made president for life.
In a letter to HKNP founder Andy Chan, the Hong Kong Security Bureau gave time till August 7 to contest the proposed ban. The party posted a copy of the letter on its social media page.
The letter said Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee has received a proposal from Hong Kong police to prohibit the operation of the HKNP in the interests of national security, public order and protection of human rights.
Hong Kong is governed under a one-country-two-systems principle. But Lee said he was considering the police request since freedom of association, according to him, has restrictions. Laws can be changed in the interests of national security or public safety under the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, he added.
Lee said any act to separate the country or threaten its sovereignty and territorial integrity crosses the red line.
If HKNP is banned after the 21-day deadline expires, it can still appeal to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, he said.
But pro-independence groups have no faith in Lam or her Executive Council which protect China’s interests.
Politicians condemned Beijing’s latest move to crush them. Chan told media that he would continue his fight for human freedom and rights.
Hong Kong’s independence movement got a big push following mass pro-democracy rallies in 2014.
But China quickly intervened and pro-independence campaigners were jailed, barred from running for office or disqualified from the legislature.
Chan was not allowed to contest for a seat in the city’s Legislative Council.
Another independence activist Edward Leung was jailed for six years in June for staging riots.