HONG KONG - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has been tasked to hand in a report to Beijing on the outlawing of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, a decision she stressed had "absolutely no interference" from the central government.
The Chief Executive said that the central government had issued a letter to her on Tuesday (Feb 26), expressing support for her administration's decision to ban the party.
The letter also reiterated the Hong Kong government's duty to uphold national security and to submit a report to Beijing.
Mrs Lam told the media on Tuesday that her report "will cover the process, the facts and the legal procedures for the prohibition of the operation of the Hong Kong National Party".
Asked if the letter was a sign of Beijing's meddling, she said: "There's absolutely no question of interference by the Central People's Government."
"Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China and it has always been the stance of the Hong Kong SAR government, including myself, to have a zero tolerance approach against any acts of advocating independence of Hong Kong," she added.
The Hong Kong National Party, led by pro-independence activist Andy Chan Ho Tin, had previously declared its goal of turning Hong Kong into a republic.
On Sept 24 last year, Secretary for Security John Lee made an order to prohibit the operation of the party after the Hong Kong government mulled over the issue since July.
Reasons cited by Mr Lee include national security, public safety, public order and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The ban, viewed by some as a clampdown on freedoms in the city, is the first under the Societies Ordinance since the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997.
The Societies Ordinance allows the prohibition of groups for reasons of national security, public safety and public order. This is a colonial-era law that is primarily used to target triads.
A week ago, the government's Executive Council upheld the order made by Mr Lee on grounds of public safety. This came after Mr Chan presented his case to a committee formed by members of the Executive Council.
To challenge the council's decision, the party leaderwould now have to file a judicial review. He has said he needs to seek legal advice.