A prominent pro-democracy group behind annual commemorations of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre must disband of its own accord or risk legal action from the Hong Kong authorities, a pro-Beijing figure has said.
Pro-Beijing businessman Lo Man-tuen said on Monday the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Alliance) was “subversive” and must be shut down under Beijing’s national security law.
“Under the national security law, the Alliance has only two options: either dissolve it on its own or be banned in accordance with the law,” Lo wrote in an op-ed published in Ming Pao.
Lo claimed the group’s slogan “End one party rule” was “subversive” and a violation of the One Country Two Systems principle, which gave rise to Hong Kong’s autonomy after the 1997 Handover from Britain.
The groups’ website lists the end of one party rule under the Chinese Communist Party as one of its five operational goals.
“The Alliance advocates the overthrowing of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership. Is it still possible to allow it to continue to exist legally?” he wrote.
The national security law imposed by Beijing last June criminalises subversion, secession, foreign interference and terrorist acts with up to life imprisonment.
Lo serves as the vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and is also the Executive Director of the Hong Kong Association for Promotion of Peaceful Reunification with China.
In response to Lo’s warning, secretary for the Alliance Richard Tsoi told RTHK that the group will “stand firm” and “not be threatened.”
“We do understand, from time to time, the Alliance will face political challenges,” he said on Monday.
The Alliance has campaigned for a democratic China for the past 30 years, organising annual events including an annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park to remember the victims of the massacre.
The government banned it last year, and this year, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Tiananmen crackdown occurred on June 4, 1989 ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died when the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on protesters in Beijing.
Lo is the latest pro-Beijing voice to take aim at the Alliance as it comes under increasing pressure from the authorities.
Key leaders of the Alliance – Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho – are currently behind bars over unauthorised assemblies during the 2019 pro-democracy protests, while the groups’ vice-chair Chow Hang-tung was arrested last Friday on the suspicion of publicising an unauthorised assembly via social media. She was released on HK$10,000 bail on Saturday.
Pro-Beijing figures have repeatedly called for the slogan “end one party rule” to be banned. Last Monday, China scholar Tian Feilong said the Alliance’s slogan “end one party rule” was subversive and called on authorities to investigate the organisation.