Catching most people by surprise, the Security Bureau suddenly invoked Article 8 of the Societies Ordinance last week in a bid to prohibit the operation of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP).
Some pan-democrats said the government’s move was in line with the set pattern of Beijing’s policy on Hong Kong, i.e. the “carrot and stick” approach, under which the moderate opposition would get the carrot and radical and separatist groups the big stick.
Meanwhile, there have been fears that other fledging pro-independence groups such as the Students Independence Union and Studentlocalism could be next on Beijing’s hit list, a pan-dem source says.
According to that person, the government has made an example of the HKNP, so it is expected that other groups that advocate the idea of self-determination will show more restraint.
As to localist groups that only pitch the self-determination of Hong Kong, pro-establishment sources that are close to Beijing say that given the central government’s “zero tolerance” to Hong Kong independence, the fate of those groups advocating self-determination would very much depend on whether they are inclined to backtrack on their demands or continue to fight for their cause in the days ahead.
As far as the moderate pro-democracy political parties are concerned, even though they have come under fire from local pro-Beijing leftist newspapers for staging a protest against the government’s move last Saturday, an act which the papers have referred to as a “de facto endorsement” of the HKNP, the pan-dem source has dismissed the hostile rhetoric as nothing more than a political gesture from pro-Beijing mouthpieces.
It is because, he explained, despite the pro-democracy stance and values embraced by the moderate pan-dems, they have long been regarded by Beijing as part of the political establishment in a broad sense under the “one country, two systems” principle.
Besides, this pan-dem noted, all that the moderate pan-dems do is express their concern over freedom of speech and freedom of association, rather than support any form of separatism.
He believes it is highly unlikely that the moderate pan-dems would ever align themselves with any group advocating Hong Kong independence like the HKNP. Given this, Beijing won’t suddenly turn up the heat on them, at least for the time being.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 23
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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