The pro-independence Hong Kong National Party says it has filed an appeal against the Companies Registry’s rejection of its name registration request.

The party said on Monday that Hong Kong’s corporate register denied its requests over the past year to change the name of its current shell company to either “HKNP Limited” or “Hong Kong National Party Limited,” citing the Companies Ordinance and the Basic Law – the city’s mini-constitution.

Hong Kong National Party
Hong Kong National Party’s Andy Chan. Photo: Hong Kong National Party via Facebook.

The party explained that it had incorporated an unnamed shell company before it held its inaugural press conference on March 28, 2016. It initially planned to change the name of the company to “HKNP Limited” afterwards.

“We have anticipated that the Chinese colonial government would bar us from the Companies Registry,” it said in a Facebook post.

However, the party said that it received multiple e-mails from the registry even before March 28, requesting to know the meaning behind the planned abbreviation “HKNP”.

See also: Newly formed pro-independence Hong Kong National Party ‘denied registration’ by Companies Registry

“What is usually a simple matter taking a week became an intentional drag through four months of red tape,” it added.

Hong Kong National Party Limited

Without having succeeded in registering the name “HKNP Limited”, the party applied for the name of the shell company to be changed to “Hong Kong National Party Limited” in July and August 2016. The party said it also applied to include its six principles into the company’s articles of association.

The party’s six principles include aims to “build an independent and free Republic of Hong Kong,” to “abolish the illegitimate Basic Law and let the Hong Kong nation write its own constitution,” and to “create a political force that supports Hong Kong independence.”

The party said that it received a letter from the registry on February 22, saying that the change of name to “Hong Kong National Party Limited” was not permissible under the Companies Ordinance. The registry cited Section 100, which states that a company “must not be registered by a name that, in the registrar’s opinion, is offensive or otherwise contrary to the public interest.”

hong kong independence national party
Hong Kong National Party merchandise, reading “Hong Kong independence.” Photo: Hong Kong National Party via Facebook.

The party said the registry also rejected its application to modify its articles of association, because “advocacy for Hong Kong independence is unconstitutional and contrary to the Basic Law.”

No company bearing the name “HKNP Limited” or “Hong Kong National Party Limited” can currently be found on the registry’s search system.

The party said on Monday that it filed an appeal against the rejection of its applications: “The Companies Registry’s decisions [are] a complete misinterpretation of the Companies Ordinance provisions, and an illegal act, ultra vires.”

The Companies Registry declined HKFP’s request for comment given that legal proceedings are ongoing.

It is not the first time the pro-independence party’s activities have been blocked by government authorities. Last July, the Electoral Affairs Commission banned party convener Andy Chan Ho-tin from running in the September Legislative Council elections.

This January, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department also terminated the party’s franchise agreement to run a stall selling merchandise at the Lunar New Year Fair in Victoria Park.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.