Fri, Apr 01, 2016 - Page 6 News List

HK independence party blocked from registering

‘ILLEGAL MEANS’:The ‘China Daily’ yesterday accused the Hong Kong National Party of illegally advocating for separation, calling the move idiotic and unconstitutional

AFP, HONG KONG

The Hong Kong government has threatened to “take action” against a new independence party and China slammed the group, which yesterday said it had been blocked from registering for political reasons.

The Hong Kong National Party, made up of 30 to 50 students and young professionals, launched on Monday saying it is tapping in to the territory’s increasing desire to break away from mainland China.

There have been growing calls for independence from Hong Kong’s youth over fears Beijing is seeking to curb freedoms in the territory.

The Hong Kong government said advocating independence was against the city’s mini-constitution and would “undermine the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.”

“The SAR government will take action according to the law,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Government officials said they had “no further comment” on what that might entail.

China’s State Council Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office also hit out, voicing “resolute opposition” to calls for independence, Xinhua news agency reported.

It said the Hong Kong government had “refused to register” the new party, a move it termed “proper.”

A Hong Kong National Party member yesterday confirmed that the group had been blocked from registering as a company, which could make it difficult for it to stand in any election.

Kris Lai said the party had approached the Companies Registry via an accounting firm, which told them “that because of political problems they turned us down.”

Hong Kong solicitor and legislator James To (涂謹申) said a party had to be officially registered as a company or society in order to feature on a ballot paper.

“It will be difficult” for candidates to run without the registration, To said.

However, some small parties said they had succeeded in doing so, apparently flouting the rules.

The territory’s electoral office could give no immediate comment on whether the failure to register as a company would prevent the Hong Kong National Party from standing.

Hong Kong’s freedoms are protected by a 50-year agreement signed when Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997, but there are fears those freedoms are dying.

Concerns have been fueled by the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers, known for salacious titles critical of Beijing, who later turned up in China.

Four of the men are now under criminal investigation in China and the fifth is flitting between Hong Kong and China, where he says he is “assisting” with the investigation.

The failure of mass protests in 2014 to win political concessions from Beijing have also led to the rise of “localism,” dominated by young activists who want more autonomy.

In a strongly worded editorial yesterday, the government-published China Daily accused the new party of trying to advocate separation through “illegal means.”

“Do they know what they advocate is illegal, unconstitutional and idiotic?” it said.

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