China’s central government has sent a letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam expressing support for her administration’s decision to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP). The letter also asked that she submit a report on the incident, Lam said.
Lam told reporters on Tuesday that she received the letter from the Central People’s Government earlier in the day and wanted to publicise it as soon as possible. The central government will also publish the full text of the letter soon, she said.
Asked if the move constituted meddling be Beijing, Lam said the letter was legitimate: “There is absolutely no question of interference.”
According to Lam, the letter had three major points: Beijing expressed support for the ban, reiterated the Hong Kong government’s responsibility to uphold national security, and asked Lam to submit a report.
Lam said that her report would cover the “the process, the facts, and the legal procedure” on the prohibition of HKNP to show that her administration acted lawfully. She added that the central authorities had not requested any specific topics to be covered in the report.
“I am inclined to publicise the report, but will seek the advice of the Department of Justice as to whether the report can be made public, having regard to possible judicial reviews lodged by the individuals concerned,” she said.
She also told reporters it was normal for the chief executive to submit reports to the mainland, and did not constitute interference.
Civic Party lawmaker said the HKNP matter should solely be a Hong Kong issue and should not involve the central government.
“This is unprecedented that Beijing interferes with Hong Kong domestic issues,” he said. “We fear that it will open a flood gate and in the future Beijing could interfere with any other domestic issues.”
“When the US is paying attention to the operation of ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ we have to pay extra attention and care to that. We cannot take it for granted that the US and the Western societies will treat Hong Kong just as the same as before.”
Pro-Beijing lawmakers have supported the central government’s move to ask for a report.
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Starry Lee said it was not rare for the chief executive to submit a report, as they will have to do once every year during duty visits to Beijing.
“This is a very natural thing and showed that the central government cares about issue. The requirement also shows that constitutional relationship between the central and Hong Kong governments,” Lee said.
Asked if she believed the move will put pressure on Hong Kong courts, Lee said she did not believe so.
“The central government’s view towards independence is very obvious. I think with or without this letter, it’s so obvious to all Hong Kong people and to the country as a whole. And we have to trust our judicial system, right? They have to rule according to the Basic Law and Hong Kong laws.”
HKNP co-founder Andy Chan had told reporters that he was out of Hong Kong, but did not provide details as to what further actions he will conduct.
Asked if Chan will be arrested if he comes back to Hong Kong, Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong lawmaker Priscilla Leung said it has to depend on Hong Kong laws.
“We are all concerned if the current laws, policies and practice of the Hong Kong government are enough to prevent the growth of Hong Kong independence forces in Hong Kong,” Leung said. “We will look at Andy Chan’s role and behaviour with Hong Kong laws, if he violated any.”
She said laws may have to be amended to protect national security, if Chan continues to advocate for independence.
HKFP has approached the HKNP’s co-founder Andy Chan for comment.
Additional reporting: Kris Cheng.