At what is dubbed “the first ever pro-independence rally” on Friday, the convenor of the Hong Kong National Party called for supporters to “infiltrate” different sectors for the sake of the movement.

The rally at Tamar Park, near government headquarters in Admiralty, ran its course peacefully. It was attended by over 10,000  – according to Chan Ho-tin’s estimation. Thousands chanted “Hong Kong Independence” at the event. Ho said it exceeded his expectations.

“I hope you can infiltrate all the government departments, the police force – we need to learn their ways, we need intelligence – this is very practical,” he said.

Chan Ho-tin
Chan Ho-tin. Photo: InMedia.

“You can see that the pro-Beijing camp has their own doctors and lawyers – same for the pan-democratic camp. We don’t have them yet, but they are coming… soon it’ll be our world.”

“Only if we study well, can we build Hong Kong and govern it in the future,” Chan added.

pro-independence rally
Photo: Socrec.

“We absolutely support and encourage the promotion of Hong Kong independence in secondary schools and universities,” he said.

Chan said he hoped that independence advocates can lead all of the university student unions. “We’ll give whatever support we can.”

The rally was attended by five former candidates in the Legislative Council election, including Chan himself, who were disqualified by returning officers who doubted that they would genuinely uphold the Basic Law.

Photo: Dan Garrett.

‘Take back power’

Edward Leung Tin-kei of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, who received more than 66,000 votes in a February by-election but was barred from running in the upcoming one, spoke of a revolution started by independence advocates.

“We have to take back power, take back the rights we should have. The sovereignty of this society does not belong to Xi Jinping, the central government, the communist party, or the Hong Kong government, but to Hong Kong people,” he said.

Edward Leung Tin-kei
Edward Leung Tin-kei. Photo: Dan Garrett.

“You may say revolution will cause bloodshed, will fail, will have sacrifices… if the government does not crush your revolution, that means your revolution is useless and not a threat to the government. You should be happy we are creating a threat.”

“What is a revolution? It is bottom-up change. A top-down change is only a reform… do you still expect the Hong Kong government to reform from the top down, to give us democracy? It’s impossible.”

Chan also called for independence supporters to vote for him, even though his candidacy was rejected.

“Do not vote with tears for those who do not support Hong Kong independence,” he said. “Originally I would appear on a ballot on September 4… but it doesn’t matter – use your own way to vote for me.”

Chan Ho-tin
Chan Ho-tin. Photo: InMedia.

But he did not directly answer how voters should vote for him, only saying that people can submit empty or invalid ballots. He added that he would not encourage people to break the law and mutilate ballot papers.

Chan said he will continue his “election campaign” and continue to urge people to “vote” for him.

The police said 2,500 attended the rally at its peak.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.