The Chinese foreign ministry in Hong Kong has condemned the Foreign Correspondents’ Club for inviting pro-independence activist Andy Chan to speak.

Chan’s Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) is facing a government ban, but Tuesday’s talk went ahead despite protests outside the venue in Central and pressure from Beijing to cancel the event.

“Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong, the FCC Hong Kong is absolutely not a place outside the law. We urge the FCC Hong Kong to reflect on itself, fix its mistake, take action to follow the laws of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, respect the feelings of 1.4 billion Chinese people including the seven-odd million Hong Kong compatriots,” a statement from the Office read.

Commissioner Xie Feng. Photo: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Any words and deeds to split Hong Kong from China will be punished in accordance with the law, and the Chinese people will not agree with anyone or any organisation cheering for Hong Kong independence advocates.”

See also: Video: In full – Andy Chan says independence is the only path to democracy

The Office highlighted some of HKNP’s activities including hosting a rally, handing out pamphlets to students, and building connections with “separatists” overseas. It said such actions were a bottom line in terms of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, and that they violated the Chinese Constitution, the Basic Law and Hong Kong laws.

“It has seriously damaged the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously damaged Hong Kong’s public order, public safety and the rights and freedoms of other people. This is obvious to all,” it said, adding that it supported the Hong Kong government’s move to ban the party in accordance with the law.

Andy Chan. Photo: Pool/SCMP.

The Office said advocacy of independence was not within freedom of speech, as it cited foreign examples.

“For instance, inviting World War II massacre participants to speak publicly in France is absolutely banned; Inviting Nazis to speak publicly in Germany is strictly banned; It is unthinkable to invite terrorists to spread the ideals of terror, incite racial discrimination and hate in the US and other countries,” it said.

See also: In Pictures: Hong Kong is ‘being annexed and destroyed by China’, says Andy Chan

“No country would allow foreign organisations to invite separatist forces to advocate for secession and to incite violent protest on its own soil. If the FCC Hong Kong will not invite racial discrimination advocates, anti-semitism advocates, terrorists and Nazis to make speeches, why would the FCC Hong Kong openly invite the head of Hong Kong’s independence [movement] to make a Hong Kong independence speech on Chinese soil?”

Photo: HKFP.

“The FCC in Hong Kong has been operating for 70 years, it should know freedom of the press is protected in Hong Kong. But it should know better that freedom of the press should not be abused,” it said. “The FCC Hong Kong said it defends the rule of law in Hong Kong, but it is exercising a double standard.”

The Office said the central government, the Hong Kong government and all Chinese people would not allow independence forces and the FCC Hong Kong to “touch the red line, and cross the bottom line.”

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Kris Cheng

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.