August 2018

Independence activist

Defying China, an independence activist speaks out in Hong Kong

In challenge weeks of the escalation of government pressure, A Hong Kong independence activist delivered a much-anticipated speech to a packed house of local and international media at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) on Tuesday, calling on the city to secede from China but offering little roadmap.

“If Hong Kong were to become truly democratic, the sovereignty of Hong Kong must rest with the people of Hong Kong. And there is only one way to achieve this, independence,” said Andy Chan Ho-tin, the 27-year-old leader of the young Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), who is currently facing the prospect of an unprecedented ban by the Hong Kong government on the grounds that the group poses an “imminent threat “for national security.

As Chan spoke, loudspeakers blasted chants from the crowd of pro-China protesters thronging the sidewalks outside the club, who were waving Chinese banners and flags.

Beijing has sternly indicated that it will not tolerate calls for independence from the former British colony, which is now a semi-autonomous region of China. In a speech to town last year, President Xi Jinping warned: “Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security [or] challenging the power of the central government… is an act that crosses the red line and is absolutely inadmissible.

Upon returning to China in 1997, the financial hub was guaranteed protection of its civil liberties and the rule of law under a framework called “One Country, Two Systems”. But the city’s autonomy has come under increasing threat in recent years, and Chan’s appearance at the FCC has rekindled fears of a deterioration in free speech in Hong Kong.

Pro-Beijing protesters chant slogans against pro-independence activist Andy Chan, who is due to deliver a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), in Hong Kong on August 14, 2018.

Philippe Fong—AFP/Getty Images

After Tuesday’s lunch, the Hong Kong government issued a statement saying it “deeply regrets” the FCC’s decision to hold the event. “It is totally inappropriate and unacceptable for anyone to openly promote and defend Hong Kong independence,” a spokesperson said. “As such, it is also completely inappropriate and unacceptable for any organization to provide a public platform to espouse such views.”

“We have continuously supported the work of the FCC over the decades,” the statement continued. “However, providing a public platform for a speaker to openly defend independence completely disregards Hong Kong’s constitutional duty to uphold national sovereignty.”

Read more: China tries to block pro-independence activist from speaking in Hong Kong

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has also released a statement denouncing the FCC for providing a platform to “poison the minds of the people”, calling it a “gross interference in the rule of law” that “hurts the feelings of the Chinese people”.

“Journalists must have professional ethics and cannot use the pretext of freedom of the press and speech to do dirty business that harms the sovereign security of other countries.” he added. “It’s hypocrisy and self-deception.”

Earlier this month, Beijing sent a representative from the Ministry of Affairs to the FCC to urge the club to “reconsider their decision” to welcome Chan. The FCC, a bastion of free speech in Asia, rejected Beijing’s suggestion and stood by its decision to let Chan speak.

“These events are really at the heart of the FCC,” First Vice President Victor Mallet said in opening luncheon remarks. “The fact that this lunch now appears to be far from normal and has generated such exceptional interest in Hong Kong and around the world, I believe, tells us more about the political climate in Hong Kong and Beijing than it does about the FCC. . .”

“Holding such an event does not imply that we at the FCC endorse or oppose the views of our speakers,” Mallet added. “Where we take a stand is on the issue of freedom of expression in Hong Kong in Asia and around the world. And the FCC believes that its members, and the general public, have the right, and in the case of correspondents and reporters, we have a professional responsibility, to hear the views of different sides in any debate.

Pro-independence activist Wayne Chan is evicted by police from a location outside the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC), as people protest ahead of a speech by pro-independence activist Andy Chan, in Hong Kong on August 14, 2018. (Philip Fong—AFP/Getty Images)

Pro-independence activist Wayne Chan is kicked out by police from a location outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), as people protest ahead of a speech by pro-independence activist Andy Chan, in Hong Kong August 14, 2018.

Philippe Fong—AFP/Getty Images

In recent days, the FCC has drawn the ire of pro-Beijing loyalists in Hong Kong, who have been quick to express their dismay. In a series of nine Facebook posts, former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying appeared to threaten the club by questioning the terms of its lease, falsely stating that its historic premises in downtown Hong Kong were rented at a “symbolic price”. Francis Moriarty, former member of the board of directors of FCC, said in a Facebook post that when he left the board three years ago, the club was paying about $77,000 a month in rent, a market rate.

In his address, Chan said Hong Kong faces the “cleansing” of an imperial China and that “Beijing is now our colonial master”, using the archaic name of Beijing. “Time and time again our government has shown that the freedom or democracy it claims to stand for are nothing but communist mirages,” Chan said.

However, he was unable to offer specifics. He declined to give numbers on party membership or describe the economic basis on which an independent Hong Kong would exist. An audience member asked how long Chan planned to continue “this charade.”

Originally a youth group called “Common Sense”, named after Thomas Paine’s eponymous tract that inspired the American public to revolt against the British in the 18th century, the HKNP is a fringe party founded by Chan in March 2016 With minimal activity and no elected legislators, it wields minimal influence. In the 2016 legislative elections, Chan and four other contenders were disqualified.

Chan earlier told TIME that efforts to block his speech at the FCC amounted to an attempt by China to “colonize Hong Kong,” adding, “[The Chinese government is] prevent journalists from reporting news to the international society as they do in China.

Independence in Hong Kong enjoys little support. According investigation11.4% of Hong Kongers favored independence, down 6% from a year earlier

In July, Hong Kong authorities presented Chan with a dossier containing hundreds of surveillance pages collected over the past two years and gave him until September to respond explaining why his party should not be banned.

With video by Abhishyant Kidangoor/Hong Kong

More must-reads from TIME

contact us at [email protected]

read more
Independence activist

Conviction of independence activist draws red line for press freedom in Hong KongGlobal Voices

Foreign correspondents club. Hong Kong government photo via HKFP.

This article is a summary of reports published between August 4 and 10, 2018 on Hong Kong Free Press. The reissue is based on a partnership agreement.

A recent war of words between the former Hong Kong managing director and the local club of foreign correspondents shows how Beijing is forcing Hong Kong journalists, local and international, to respect its political red line.

The incident began when the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) announced on July 30 that political party leader Andy Chan Ho Tin would give a talk at the Club on August 14, entitled “Hong Kong Nationalism: A Politically Incorrect Guide on Hong Kong under Chinese Rule ”.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China with more economic and personal freedoms than the mainland, a configuration known as “One country, two systems.” In recent years, Beijing has pressured Hong Kong to pass new laws that strengthen the “One Country” part of the principle.

Shortly afterwards, a representative from the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s commissioner’s office in Hong Kong visited the FCC and urged them to reconsider the decision.

Chan is the chairman of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), which advocates for Hong Kong’s full independence from China. Last month, the Hong Kong Police Company Registration Department issued a legal recommendation to the Security Secretary to ban HKNP as a political party. Quoting Section 8 (1) (a) of the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance, the department said it would be “in the interest of national security, public safety, public order, protection of the liberty and rights of others ”.

After reviewing the past activities of the HKNP and Andy Chan’s talks, law enforcement authorities concluded that the HKNP was a threat to national security. The recommendation stated:

The government of the Hong Kong SAR must not wait for a political movement to resort to violence before intervening … Even if the political movement has not yet attempted to seize power and the danger of its policies does not is not imminent, the government of the Hong Kong SAR must take preventive measures because the HKNP The movement began to take concrete action in public to implement a goal inconsistent with the laws.

Police handed Chan a 900-page dossier detailing his and the party’s activities and outlining his proposal to ban the group. Chan must respond to the case by September 4.

Luncheon Announcement by Andy Chan. Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club website.

The visit to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s FCC was not necessarily a sign of a problem. Hong Kong media organizations are used to receiving “political advice” from Beijing officials.

But tensions began to escalate when former Hong Kong general manager Leung “CY” Chun-ying stepped in and criticized the FCC for crossing a so-called “red line”:

?? ??

Hong Kong’s independence is clearly and definitely a red line. Advocating the independence of Hong Kong is tantamount to advocating the resurgence of the country and constitutes an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. Today the FCC invites Andy Chan to talk about the independence of Hong Kong, tomorrow he could invite others to talk about the independence of Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet. What would become of Hong Kong?

In response to CY Leung’s “red line” comment, Victor Mallett, FCC’s senior vice president, restored the value of free speech.

Leung then posted an open letter on Facebook, in which he compared Andy Chan’s hosting to criminal and terrorist activity:

Presumably, then, you will defend your decision by also asserting that those who oppose Taiwan’s independence would have the same opportunity to present their views. By following this logic, you are unlikely to draw any lines against criminals and terrorists. As I said, we should be very concerned.

He further claimed that FCC had paid “nominal rent”. In comments, his supporters pleaded for the Hong Kong government to take back the property.

Leung’s claim was refuted by former FCC board member Francis Moriarty as an ill-informed threat:

Leung is completely wrong about the rent… When I left the FC board three years ago, we were paying around 550,000 HKD (70,060 USD) per month and were fully responsible for the upkeep of the historic building. .

Chris Yeung Kin-hing, president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKAJ), saw Leung’s comment as “blatant political pressure”:

Leung is essentially asking the FCC to cancel Chan’s conference and stop inviting similar guests in the future, otherwise the lease might not be renewed or even be resumed sooner… This is blatant political pressure.

But CY Leung’s argument has been echoed by many pro-Beijing media and politicians. On August 8, a group of 30 protesters took to the streets and demonstrated outside the FCC in Central to demand that Andy Chan’s speech be quashed.

The FCC has resisted political pressure and the interview is still scheduled to take place on August 14. Nonetheless, political pressure took hold on other local media.

The city’s public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, Leung Ka-wing, told a regular meeting on August 9 that the broadcaster should not be used to defend Hong Kong independence and banned the live broadcast of Andy Chan’s speech to the FCC. The RTHK program staff union explained that the decision whether or not to broadcast a live event is usually made by the section chief of the various program teams after internal deliberation. It is unusual for the leader to make a decision this way.

More than half of local media owners in Hong Kong also sit on government bodies appointed by Beijing, such as the National People’s Congress. Even though there is no law in place to prosecute media for presenting political dissent, the FCC saga sends a strong signal to media owners and their information management teams on the “red line. “. The effects are more than chilling.

read more
Independence activist

Beijing attempts to block pro-independence activist Andy Chan’s speech at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club

A representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong tried to prevent pro-independence activist Andy Chan from speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC). The acting chairman of the FCC confirmed the incident.

The Club will host the organizer of the Hong Kong National Party for a luncheon on August 14. Announced on July 30, the conference is entitled “Hong Kong Nationalism: A Politically Incorrect Guide to Hong Kong under Chinese Rule”.

Sources familiar with the matter told HKFP that the FCC has been “urged to reconsider its decision” to host Andy Chan, whose party is facing a government ban. A representative from the Commissioner’s Office in Hong Kong traveled to the FCC to deliver the message. But the club will not change its plans.

Photo: Screenshot.

The club’s interim president, Victor Mallet, confirmed that the Office had made representation to the FCC: “Our position is that we are a club that is a very strong defender of press freedom and freedom of speech. ‘expression.”

Mallet added that the club welcomes different opinions and political opinions: “Sometimes the opinions of our speakers are odious to the Chinese government, sometimes they are odious to opponents of the Chinese government… Our opinions are not represented by our speakers. We want to hear from speakers of all kinds, whether right or left, extremist or not. We will continue to do so.

See also: Explainer: How Hong Kong seeks to ban pro-independence party using existing national security laws

The introduction to the event said that Chan will talk about his vision for a future nation of Hong Kong: “The lecture will cover a brief history of the Party and touch on what Mr. Chan thinks it means to lead of a movement trying to build a national identity for Hong Kong, and his reaction to the government’s strong reaction to his party.

Foreign Correspondents Club, Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Smuconlaw.

Pro-establishment speakers

Mallet told HKFP that the Chinese Foreign Ministry has helped organize FCC speakers from the pro-establishment side or Chinese visitors.

He said that before the club hosted pro-democracy professors Benny Tai and Kenneth Chan’s lectures in June, they tried to invite pro-Beijing speakers: “However, none of them wanted to come. , none of them wanted to talk.”

“[I]It is true that it was difficult to obtain pro-establishment or pro-Beijing [speakers] come talk. But we always welcome them as we welcome their opponents.

See also: ‘They treat Hong Kong as part of China’: Independence activist Andy Chan condemns decision to censor talks

Last month, police told the government there was a strong enough case in the interests of “national security, public safety, public order, protection of the freedom and rights of othersfor the Security Secretary to ban the party, citing Section 8(1)(a) of the Companies Ordinance for the first time after the surrender.

On July 17, Chan was given 21 days to respond to a 900-page dossier, which contained 700 pages of his speeches and events collected by police over two years. Chan asked for an extension until October because it was “unfair” for him to respond at such short notice.

The Security Bureau this week extended the deadline to 49 days – the party must now respond by September 4. However, the Bureau did not respond to Chan’s other request for access to surveillance records relating to him.

read more
Independence activist

“They treat Hong Kong like parts of China”: independence activist Andy Chan condemns decision to censor talks

Independence activist Andy Chan said the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s attempt to block his speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club proved that Hong Kong’s attempt to ban his party was a “political incident” beyond the local government.

The Club will welcome Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong National Party, for a luncheon on August 14. Announced on July 30, the speech is titled “Hong Kong Nationalism: A Politically Incorrect Guide to Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule.” The party faces a ban, with authorities asking Chan to respond to a 900-page dossier by September 4.

A representative from the Chinese commissioner’s office in Hong Kong visited the FCC, urging it to reconsider its decision to host Chan.

Andy Chan Ho-tin. File photo:

“From top to bottom, it was planned by the Chinese government, the script was written,” Chan told HKFP.

See also: Explanation: How Hong Kong seeks to ban an independence party using existing national security laws

“This bold exercise of pressure on the FCC is a clear suppression of freedom of speech and the freedom to conduct interviews. They treat Hong Kong like parts of China, where information can be blocked. “

In a statement, the commissioner’s office said the independence forces have seriously violated the Chinese Constitution, the Basic Law and the laws of Hong Kong, and harmed the country’s national security and territorial sovereignty.

“We strongly support the government of the Hong Kong SAR to deal with the matter in accordance with the Basic Law and the laws of the Hong Kong SAR. We strongly oppose any attempt by outside forces to provide a platform for supporters of “Hong Kong independence” to spread their falsehoods, “he said.

Journalism and free expression NGOs criticized the decision.

“Such a move may result in self-censorship on the part of groups to avoid sensitive topics and speakers, as our annual report on freedom of expression points out. We support the FCC which stands by its principles, ”Shirley Yam of the Hong Kong Journalists Association told HKFP.

Cédric Alviani, director of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia, told HKFP that he denounced the attempted intimidation of the FCC, “a club which represents the very spirit of press freedom in Hong Kong” .

Foreign correspondents club. Photo: Government of Hong Kong.

“We urge Beijing to respect freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which are explicitly written in the basic law signed by China before the handover,” Alviani added.

Acting club president Victor Mallet confirmed that the Bureau made a statement to the FCC: “Our position is that we are a club which is a very strong defender of press freedom and freedom of expression. .

See also: “Enemy of the State” – National Party Founder Andy Chan Says Party “Unmasked” Hong Kong Political Reality

Police last month told the government there was a strong enough case in the interests of “national security, public safety, public order, protection of liberty and the rights of others”For the security secretary to ban the party, citing section 8 (1) (a) of the Companies Ordinance for the first time after the surrender.

read more