The League of Social Democrats (LSD), one of Hong Kong’s last remaining active pro-democracy groups, announced that they will not hold any protest on the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover after some of its volunteers were summoned for meetings by the national security police.

Chairperson of the LSD Chan Po-ying said on Tuesday that the group decided not to hold any protest events on Friday “after assessing the situation.”

Chan Po-ying 47 democrats West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts
Chan Po-ying of the League of Social Democrats stages a brief protest outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts before a hearing related to the 47 democrats’ subversion case on February 28, 2022. Photo: League of Social Democrats.

“The situation is difficult, [I] cannot give more details,” said Chan. She told HKFP that she, herself, was not invited to speak to the police, adding that it may be the first time the LSD has not protested on July 1.

The group’s decision came as the city amped up security measures amid fumours that China’s president Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong to inaugurate John Lee as leader. Media coverage has been restricted.

As of Tuesday, the police had yet to receive any applications for public meetings or rallies.

Traditionally, the disbanded Civil Human Rights Front would hold annual protests on July 1. The group announced its decision to disband in August last year, citing “unprecedented challenges.”

Hong Kong’s opposition voices have been muted following the implementation of the sweeping national security law in June 2020, where subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts – which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure – were criminalised.

National security law
Photo: GovHK.

The majority of the city’s pro-democracy figures are either facing prosecution, have left Hong Kong or have bowed out from the political scene.

The Beijing-imposed legislation gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

Earlier this month, incumbent leader Carrie Lam told CNBC: “When people complain there’s no freedom, this is not the situation in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is as free as ever, whether it’s in the freedom of expression, in the freedom of assembly, in the media, and so on.”

Pollster ‘risk’

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute also said in an email on Tuesday that it was delaying the release of a survey about the Handover “in response to suggestions from relevant government department(s) after their risk assessment.”

Robert Chung PORI
Robert Chung, executive director of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The group was scheduled to release results on Tuesday entitled: “HKSAR anniversary surveys, popularity figures of the government and five core social indicators” under its “One Country Two Systems 25-year Mid-term Review” Series.

The figures will now be released online on July 5 instead.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.