The new minister for constitutional matters has said that Hong Kong political bodies with connections to foreign or Taiwanese political organisations may not be allowed to register. Such groups risk having their registration cancelled, or even being prohibited from operating.

Such requirements are stipulated in the Societies Ordinance.

Patrick Nip was answering a written question from pro-Beijing DAB party lawmaker Gary Chan at the Legislative Council. Chan said three lawmakers last month attended the launch event of the Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus and signed a cooperation document with the Caucus.

Establishment of the Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus
Establishment of the Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus. Photo: Ray Chan, via Facebook.

The three lawmakers included Eddie Chu, Ray Chan and Nathan Law.

“It has been reported that the Caucus shows a strong tendency towards ‘Taiwan Independence’ and its members have even advocated propositions such as convening… public hearings to receive views from various parties on Hong Kong affairs, as well as promoting amendment of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau by Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan to grant political asylum to people from Hong Kong,” Gary Chan wrote.

“There are views that the Caucus is preparing to substantively intervene and interfere in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, and the aforesaid Legislative Council Members who have participated in its activities are colluding with Taiwan Independence forces to promote ‘Hong Kong Independence’,” he added.

Foreign ‘interference’ 

Chan asked if the government has studied ways to prohibit “any Hong Kong people and local organisations from drawing in Taiwan Independence forces to interfere in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.”

Nip cited five articles of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution, when answering the question. They include articles 66, 68, 73, 79(7) and 104, which are related to lawmakers’ election, status, oaths of office, and disqualification.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Mr Patrick Nip Tak-kuen.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Mr Patrick Nip Tak-kuen.

“The HKSAR Government has all along objected to any form of interference in the internal affairs of Hong Kong by other governments and political organisations,” he replied. “According to the relevant statutory provisions in Hong Kong, a political body in Hong Kong that has a connection with a foreign political organisation or a political organisation of Taiwan may be refused to register, cancelled its registration or even prohibited from operation.”

Nip did not specify which law he was referring to, but Section 5 of the Societies Ordinance has similar stipulations. There are no such laws surrounding political parties in Hong Kong.

Nip said the government will not comment on the relevant work of law enforcement agencies.

“Any person in Hong Kong must abide by the laws of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong people must exercise their rights and freedoms in compliance with the laws of Hong Kong. If there is any illegal act, the law enforcement agencies will handle in accordance with law and seek legal advice as necessary,” he wrote.

Chan Yuen-han
Chan Yuen-han at the Democratic Progressive Party’s campaign office. Photo: Screenshot.

Former justice secretary Elsie Leung had made similar statements in a speech in October 2002.

Gary Chan’s pro-Beijing party DAB had visited politicians from both the nationalist Kuomintang Party, and also future president Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party in 2008.

Defending the visit, pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Union lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said it was an “official private exchange” at a televised forum about the issue.

In the lead-up to the Taiwanese presidential elections last year, then Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Chan Yuen-han was interviewed after visiting the Democratic Progressive Party’s campaign office. Wong did not comment on his fellow party member’s actions on that forum.

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.