New Hong Kong National Party says will push for independence from China

Demonstrators taking part in an annual New Year's Day march with yellow umbrellas, a symbol of the Occupy Central movement, in Hong Kong on Jan 1.
Demonstrators taking part in an annual New Year's Day march with yellow umbrellas, a symbol of the Occupy Central movement, in Hong Kong on Jan 1.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - A group led by an activist of the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement that brought Hong Kong to a standstill in 2014 is setting up a party that  aims to turn Hong Kong into an independent republic, Hong Kong media reported.

Calling itself the Hong Kong National Party, the group said it would not recognise the Basic Law, the city’s mini-Constitution, the South China Morning Post reported.

Led by former Occupy Central activist Chan Ho Tin, the party will use “whatever effective means” available to push for independence, including fielding candidates in the Legislative Council (Legco) elections in September and coordinating with other pro-independence localist groups, SCMP said.

“Staging marches or shouting slogans is obviously useless now. Regarding using violence, we would support it if it is effective to make us heard,” Mr Chan was quoted as saying at a press conference he conducted alone on Monday at a flat in a Tuen Mun factory building.

He claimed the party was funded entirely by the donations of its 50-plus members, mostly university students and young activists.

Its emergence comes amid a rising tide of localism, encouraged by the unexpectedly credible showing of localist candidate Edward Leung  in last month’s Legco by-election.

In calling for outright independence, the new group is at the extreme end of the political spectrum. It also risks prosecution by not recognising the Basic Law.

By comparison, a new party being set up by former core leaders of the now-suspended student-led  group Scholarism has stopped short of advocating independence, despite the call for “self-determination by Hong Kong people”.

Mr Chan’s party swiftly inviting scepticism across the political divide, reported SCMP.

Political affairs observer Dr James Sung of City University doubted if a party that explicitly advocated independence could survive for long. 

“It is totally against the mainstream political sentiment here. I would be surprised it is able to secure financial sources or sufficient donations to sustain its operation.”

Democratic Party lawmaker James To, a lawyer, said such a party could find it tough to get proper registration under Hong Kong laws.

But some pro-establishment figures have warned against taking the latest group too lightly.

Mr Lau Nai Keung, a member of the influential Basic Law Committee, said: “Perhaps the Hong Kong government has been too tolerant about such lousy calls for independence. It is flatly against the Basic Law. I am not sure why we should let it exist.”

Article One of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong “is an inalienable part of” China.