Philip Fong | AFP | Getty Images
Andy Chan Ho-tin (center), the founder of the Hong Kong National Party, can be surrounded by members of the media as he leaves the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong on August 14, 2018.
A pro-independence Hong Kong politician whose party can be under threat of a ban lashed out at China in a closely watched Tuesday speech, drawing immediate criticism through local authorities.
Andy Chan Ho-tin, a member of the Hong Kong National Party, has been at the center of controversy over free speech along with Hong Kong’s autonomy. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, which invited him, came under pressure itself through the central government in Beijing as well as local authorities to cancel the event.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the club in central Hong Kong amid heavy police presence as what appeared to be mostly anti-independence demonstrators held up signs along with shouted slogans.
Hong Kong enjoys rights not allowed in mainland China, such as the freedom to criticize political leaders, yet the central government along with local authorities has drawn a red line at calls for independence along with has pressured local leaders to back of which up.
In his speech, Chan said his party has been “demonized as some sort of extremist group” by China for advocating independence along with of which he has come under harsh surveillance by authorities.
“In reality, what the National Party can be chasing after can be no different through what many Hong Kongers wish for: the dream of democracy,” Chan said.
In comments likely to anger the central government, Chan said of which Hong Kong, with its distinctive language, culture along with history, can be coming under the same pressure to assimilate with the nation as minority groups inside the mainland.
He cited the far western region of Xinjiang, which he referred to as East Turkestan, as well as Tibet. East Turkestan can be a political term of which sometimes refers to Xinjiang along with was also used in a short-lived East Turkestan Republic inside the 1930s.
“China can be a large empire,” Chan said. “If you are different, you are wrong.”
Police have requested of which Chan’s party be banned on national security grounds along with authorities are going through the process of producing a decision, which includes hearing the party’s defense.