The government has issued a statement warning of possible “follow-up action” against candidates in the upcoming Legislative Council elections who advocate Hong Kong’s independence from China.

In a statement, the government said it was concerned because candidates promoting or advocating for independence go “against the statutory declaration that they will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR.”

The statement comes two days after a pro-Beijing online media claimed that more candidates will be disqualified ahead of voting this Sunday.

Legislative Council LegCo
Legislative Council. Photo: GovHK.

According to the Legislative Council Ordinance, it is stated that an individual is required to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to be nominated as a candidate. The Basic Law states that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China.

Between late July and early August, the government barred six candidates from running in Sunday’s election due to their openly pro-independence stance. They included Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous, Chan Ho-tin of the Hong Kong National Party, Yeung Ke-cheong of the Democratic Progressive Party of Hong Kong, Nakade Hitsujiko of Nationalist Hong Kong, Alice Lai Yee-man of the Conservative Party of Hong Kong, as well as Chan Kwok-keung, a pro-independence district councillor.

Subsequently, thirty lawyers published a joint statement in which they criticised the returning officers – who were given the legal authority to decide if an individual’s candidacy was valid – for banning the candidates from running. The statement said that the law did not give them “any power to inquire into the so-called genuineness of the candidates’ declarations, let alone making a subjective and political decision to disqualify a candidate without following any due process on the purported ground that the candidate will not genuinely uphold the Basic Law.”

Chan Ho-tin
Chan Ho-tin addressing supporters at a rally after disqualified from election. Photo: HKFP

Some localist election hopefuls – who have been allowed to stand – have been openly supporting Hong Kong independence during their election campaigning. During a rally last Sunday, both Chan Chak-to and Kenny Wong Chun-kit, who are running in the Kowloon East constituency and New Territories West constituency respectively, have openly called for the city’s independence from Chinese rule.

Meanwhile, the Home Affairs Department clarified on Monday night that it has no knowledge of a dubious email sent to Chan from an email address bearing the department’s domain. The email, which enquired about Chan’s election platform, was sent under the name “Sin Wa” but did not provide information about the sender’s identity. The government has promised to follow-up on the incident.

Eric Cheung

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).