The Hong Kong Police Force stepped up security measures to prevent any untoward incident as opposing camps gathered outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club building in Central where pro-independence activist Andy Chan Ho-tin was scheduled to give a speech on Tuesday.
The FCC lunch was expected to start at 12:30 p.m. Chan, co-founder and convenor of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), was scheduled to deliver his speech at 1:15 p.m.
His topic was “Hong Kong Nationalism: A Politically Incorrect Guide to Hong Kong under Chinese Rule”. He said he would definitely attend the event.
The FCC has been strongly criticized by pro-Beijing personalities for inviting a known separatist leader to speak at the club on a topic that is considered as crossing a red line set by the central government.
According to police, a letter of no objection has been sent to each of the four groups that applied to hold a public event during the day on Lower Albert Road, where the FCC building is located.
Pro-Beijing groups such as United in Protecting Hong Kong said they would stage a rally outside the building to protest against the club’s decision to invite Chan to give a speech.
Meanwhile, the pro-democracy group Gau Wu and the pro-independence Students Independence Union also said they would gather outside the building to show their support for Chan, with the latter promising to display colonial-era Hong Kong flags.
Roy Tam Hoi-pong, a Tsuen Wan District Council member from the Neo Democrats, said he will also be present to voice out the importance of free speech.
At around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, several pro-Beijing groups were already staging a rally outside the FCC building. Later, shortly after noon, some members of the pro-democracy camp and Students Independence Union also arrived at the scene.
On Monday, pro-Beijing online media Silent Majority for Hong Kong said the FCC refused to allow it to do an on-site report on Chan’s speech on the ground that the club is open to professional media outlets only.
Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, one of the most vocal critics of the club’s decision to invite Chan, kept up his attack on the FCC, asking if it would also invite someone who advocates Nazism to deliver a speech at the club.
He was responding to remarks by Francis Moriarty, a former FCC board member, who said that Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who is revered as the father of modern China, had also crossed the “red line” and overthrew the Qing dynasty, but that Leung himself had expressed support for what Sun did.
Also on Tuesday, Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, told an academic forum at the Chinese University of Hong Kong that the city would be suicidal and invite tragic consequences if it tried to go independent politically.
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