Hong Kong protesters have promised more demonstrations this weekend after Beijing announced its plan to bypass the local legislature and enact national security laws.
In a Telegram app broadcast seen by over 40,000 users, several frontline protester groups jointly urged both peaceful and “valiant” demonstrators to gather in the streets this Sunday in response to the draft law. “Valiant” refers to groups willing to confront the police and take action on the frontlines.
“Hongkongers have ultimately been confronted with questions about our future. Narratives about independence and establishing a state elsewhere have cropped up,” the statement read. “We should have fewer but better protests in the streets to prevent the government from misrepresenting each demonstration as regular clashes… we wish them to be wary of our resistance.” It said the march, set to take place on Hong Kong Island at 1pm, must show the international community that Hongkongers have steadfast determination in the fight for democracy.
Demonstrators are set to gather at two starting points – SOGO department store in Causeway Bay and Wanchai’s Southorn Playground.
Meanwhile, the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) coalition, who were behind many of the large-scale peaceful protests last year, called on the public to support their upcoming actions despite revealing no details: “We hope that when the CHRF make the announcement, there will be more than two million who turn up.”
An online forum user drafted a “May 21st Hong Kong Independence Declaration” following news of the new draft law. The post on the Reddit-like LIHKG forum received nearly 4,000 upvotes. The aim, it said, was to build a government that truly belonged to the people. It opened with: “The honeymoon has long been over, and ‘one country, one system’ is the dreaded reality that over a million Hong Kongers are awakening to.”
The author posted the declaration on Thursday evening, with a timetable detailing progressive goals to achieve independence from China. Short-term goals included strengthening labour union networks in various fields, increasing the self-sufficiency of the local economy, and keeping track of public opinions on independence. Organising a parliament and military would be the mid-term goals. In the long run, the author suggested, a provisional government and constitution should be created.
“Hope that Hong Kong city will rise from ashes and be reborn to shine as an independent Hong Kong state. Glory to Hong Kong,” it read.
On Tuesday, a bill titled “To authorize the President to recognize the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China as a separate, independent country, and for other purposes” was introduced to the US House of Representatives. It was put forward by Congressperson Scott Perry and later referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The city’s pro-independence Hong Kong National Party is already banned and Chief Executive Carrie Lam has insisted that calls for independence are a “red line.”
With the plans for security legislation dominating the headlines, CitizenNews data analyst Joe Lee found a correlation between the keywords “national security law” and “immigration” in online search engine requests. He said the pattern showed that the “public are almost searching ‘national security law’ and ‘immigration’ simultaneously.” Lee said that the phenomenon suggested that thoughts of immigration were an instinctive and direct public response from the public.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Economic Times cited Deluxe Immigration Consultancy LTD – a specialist immigration firm – as noting a ten-fold increase in enquiries about moving to Taiwan after Beijing’s plans were unveiled.
At Friday’s Citizens’ Press Conference – an advocacy group founded by protesters – activists called for action from the international community. They gave particular focus to the UK as a co-signatory to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration which gave rise to the Handover: “The UK should actively explore options such as a second citizenship and right of abode for British Nationals (Overseas) passport holders, as well as to actively reflect the on-the-ground situation of Hong Kong to international organisations such as the UN.”
The group said the declaration was lodged at the UN as an international treaty, despite Beijing claiming it had “expired.”
“Hong Kong will be but a piece of scorched earth under this national security decree,” they said.
Further protests are expected next week as the controversial National Anthem bill reaches the main legislative chamber on Wednesday.