Advocating for Hong Kong’s independence will lead to the legislation of Article 23, the 2003 security law which prohibits secession and sedition against China, New People’s Party (NPP) deputy chair Michael Tien Puk-sun claimed on Sunday.

Tien said that fighting for independence is akin to “throwing out” the Sino-British Joint Declaration, RTHK reported. The 1984 agreement gave rise to Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“If you want to throw it out, you will be starting over with no foundation. At this point, anyone can call for independence be it in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, or Lo Wu. At what point do we stop? What are we actually fighting for? This is why I urge everyone to be cautious,” he said.

Michael Tien Puk-sun
Michael Tien Puk-sun. File photo: Wikicommons.

Tien was speaking during an RTHK television program alongside Hong Kong National Party spokesman Chow Ho-fai and Demosistō chairman Nathan Law Kwun-chung. Tien said that the actions of Chow and Law could lead to the passing of the controversial security law, Ming Pao reported.

Chow refuted Tien’s claims, arguing that Article 23 was completely unrelated to Hong Kong’s independence and that he doesn’t believe that the government would abandon the law altogether even if all talks of independence ceased. Chow also said that the problem does not lie with independence, as the government tried to pass the national security law in 2003 when pan-democrats only wanted dual universal suffrage.

Chow Ho-fai. Photo: RTHK screencap.

Law added that while he promotes self-determination for Hong Kong, it is not the same as independence. Law also questioned Tien on the One Country Two Systems principle, asking how much popular support the system would garner if a referendum was held today.

University of Hong Kong law Professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming made remarks similar to Tien’s last month, when he said he was worried that talk of independence would touch a nerve with the central government.

Isaac Cheung is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. During the Occupy Central protests, Isaac worked as an editor and reporter at LIVE: Verified Updates, a bilingual news page founded and maintained by HKU journalism students. He has also worked at Coconuts Hong Kong as a reporter.