Pro-Beijing heavyweight Rita Fan said on Sunday that Hongkongers who chant “end one-party rule” – a slogan used by the pro-democracy camp since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre – may fall foul of the Chinese constitution and be barred from running in local elections.

Asked about the Labour Party’s Lee Cheuk-yan, who is known to shout the slogan, Fan told reporters that the preamble of the Chinese constitution said China must be led by the Communist Party. Lee was confirmed last week as a valid candidate in the November Legislative Council by-election.

Rita Fan
Rita Fan. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“Hong Kong law may not have enough provisions to make decisions on this aspect, and the situation today shows that [local laws] haven’t reflected the requirements imposed by the PRC constitution on Chinese citizens in Hong Kong,” Fan said.

“I can’t comment on how things will be, but I also cannot exclude the possibility that, in the future, we have to totally comply with the PRC constitution,” she added.

Ending the one-party leadership of the Communist Party has been a major tenet of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, a political group formed in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The crackdown ended months of student-led demonstrations in China, leaving hundreds, perhaps thousands, dead after the army was deployed. Lee was chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance from 2011 to 2014.

In June, the Hong Kong Alliance decided to keep the slogan during its annual June 4 vigil despite warnings from various pro-Beijing figures that it crossed a “red line.” Former director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Wang Guangya has said that those who call for an end to Communist rule cannot run for office.

july 1 Lee Cheuk-yan
Lee Cheuk-yan. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

At the time, Lee said he would not abandon the slogan despite possible legal consequences.

‘Difficult to change’

Fan on Sunday also expressed support for the decision to bar Lau Siu-lai from running. She said that the electoral officer had enough evidence to establish that Lau still supported Hong Kong self-determination.

“If a person believes in something – maybe Hong Kong independence or self-determination – it is difficult to change that in a short period of time,” she said. Lee Cheuk-yan is running in her place.

Returning Officer Franco Kwok cited a statement by Lau in 2016 which argued that independence must be “one of the options” in the event of Hongkongers being asked about self-determination. Whilst Lau had deleted certain content related to self-determination from her website, Kwok said he did not believe that she had actually changed her views.

Lau Siu-lai DQ rip
Lau Siu-lai rips up the letter invalidating her candidacy. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Fan disagreed that this amounted to a lifetime ban: “But [Lau] may adjust her views in the future for some reason, and… I believe this will be reflected in her speech and behaviour. So I believe that a one-time disqualification does not mean a permanent disqualification,” she added.

Other candidates for the November 25 by-election for the Kowloon West geographical constituency are Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan, Ng Dick-hay and Tzeng Li-wen Judy.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.