What is the Hong Kong National Party?

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What is the Hong Kong National Party?

The Economist explainsWhat is the Hong Kong National Party?

The government wants to ban it

The Economist explains

ALONG with terrorism and extremism, separatism rounds off “the three evil forces” that Xi Jinping, China’s president, frequently invokes in speeches and has vowed to stamp out. Regions with large ethnic-minority populations, such as Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, have long been regarded as breeding grounds for separatists. In recent years, however, Mr Xi has grown increasingly anxious about pro-independence sentiment in Hong Kong, a special administrative region where hardly any residents were calling for outright separation from China just five years ago.

The Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), founded in 2016, is the territory’s first separatist political party. Its leader Andy Chan, a 28-year-old interior designer, describes himself as a democracy advocate. The failure of the pro-democracy “umbrella movement” of 2014, itself triggered by a Chinese decision that candidates for the post of Hong Kong’s chief executive should be selected by a committee stacked with Communist Party supporters, convinced him that Hong Kongers will not get full democracy so long as their city is part of China. This is all the more galling given that China promised Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” from 1997 until at least 2047 under the “one country, two systems” arrangement. To achieve real democracy, including direct elections of the chief executive and all members of the Legislative Council, Hong Kong will need first to throw off China’s yoke, says Mr Chan.

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HKNP is light on policy specifics. It has not announced a target date for independence, nor suggested a means of achieving it. Its website offers no concrete proposals for what a defence, economic or social policy might look like after independence. Most Hong Kongers reckon the party is advocating a course of action that is unrealistic. The party does not hold a single elected seat at any level. In fact, it is estimated to have just a few hundred members.

Still, that is enough to worry China’s top brass, who fear that Mr Chan’s party could be the start of a bigger political movemen t. In July Hong Kong’s Security Bureau, almost certainly under instruction from its masters in Beijing, initiated proceedings to ban the party on grounds of “national security”, among other vague charges. Mr Chan was given until 5pm on September 14th to explain to the bureau why his party should not be banned. Conveniently for the government, Mr Chan filed his supporting documents nearly four hours late owing to a last-minute mix-up (though he had considered the ban to be a foregone conclusion). Hong Kong’s security minister is likely to announce the verdict in the coming days. Mr Xi will not be waiting with bated breath.

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