Hong Kong Law & Crime Politics & Protest

Hong Kong gov’t sees pamphlets and banners as harmful to national security, says pro-independence party leader

Andy Chan, the leader of the embattled pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) has claimed that the government believes the party’s promotional efforts are themselves harmful to national security.

Hong Kong’s security secretary John Lee said on Tuesday that the HKNP has 21 days to justify why it should not be banned, citing a recommendation from the police assistant societies officer on the grounds of national security and public safety. It is the first time since the city’s 1997 Handover to China that the section of Societies Ordinance has been used.

Chan said that he received 700 pages of documents in four folders from the police on Tuesday. Three and a half folders contained records of his past speeches and events, which the police believed were harmful to national security. Listed in the documents was the party’s formation press conference in 2016, its street promotion stands, Chan’s legislative election run and events he attended in Taiwan, among others.

hong kong national party andy chan ho-tin independence

Hong Kong National Party’s Andy Chan. Photo: Hong Kong National Party, via Facebook.

National security was defined by the government as “the safeguarding of the territorial integrity and the independence of the People’s Republic of China.”

“Even my comments on Taiwanese radio stations – they were recorded word by word as a transcript,” he told an RTHK radio programme on Wednesday.

“According to the documents, the government believes that printing pamphlets, putting up banners, conducting press conferences already amount to actions [harmful to national security],” he said. “To them, it seemed that every sentence I said was very important.”

Chan declined to reveal how many party members HKNP has, but said the police documents estimated there were between ten and 100 members. He said only two people including himself and the party’s spokesperson Jason Chow were named in the papers.

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Photo: HKNP.

Chan said he was not certain what questions he has to answer in the documents, as it was not clear and he was awaiting legal advice on whether to reply to the police before the deadline. He said he would not rule out filing a legal challenge after he has exhausted all procedures under the current system.

Chan said he believed the Hong Kong government faced huge pressure from the Chinese Communist Party to ban HKNP.

“This is not a legal issue, this is a political issue, and there are – of course – political considerations,” he said on a Commercial Radio programme on Wednesday.

“There is no need to legislate Article 23 [national security law]. There is already a lot of current laws that can be used as political tools to suppress opposition voices.”

Hong Kong gov't sees pamphlets and banners as harmful to national security, says pro-independence party leader