Talk of Hong Kong independence “threatens the safety of Hong Kong”, a column published on Wednesday in the overseas version of the state-backed newspaper People’s Daily said.

“In Hong Kong, there are people using the banner of freedom of speech to engage in the illegal business of ‘Hong Kong independence’”, wrote Eliza Chan Ching-har, a Hong Kong representative for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee.

hong kong localist independence
File photo: Todd Darling.

“Hong Kong residents’ right to freedom of speech is limited by ‘the completeness of the country’s sovereign territory’ as well as ‘One country, two systems’. This means that anybody who advocates ‘Hong Kong independence’ is not only openly violating the Basic Law, they also threatening the safety of Hong Kong and hurting its social and economic prospects,” said Chan.

She said that while those who seek independence are small in number, “Hong Kong residents should remain highly alert to recent radical and separatist trends.”

‘Weak power to influence’ 

Another Global Times column published on the same day also said that Hong Kong independence “actually is very weak in power to influence, but it persists in the media, distracting people from caring about Hong Kong.”

Ming Pao printed three empty columns on Sunday April 24.
Ming Pao printed three empty columns on Sunday April 24.

The column also cited the columnists who left empty columns in Ming Pao in protest of the firing of the executive chief editor Keung Kwok-yuen and the existence of Causeway Bay Books, saying that they may affect Hong Kong’s image.

Causeway Bay Books was the centre of the case of the five missing booksellers, who disappeared at the end of last year, only to reappear in the mainland in February and March.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.