Hong Kong must crack down on all anti-China forces and “leave no gaps,” a top Chinese official said on Monday.
Meanwhile, an activist from the pro-democracy League of Social Democrats has said they will continue to voice their opinions.
Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, was speaking during an online seminar discussing Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s speech on the city’s 25th Handover anniversary.
Xia said the 2020 implementation of the national security law and the overhaul of Hong Kong’s election system were fundamentally about defending One Country, Two Systems, as well as “protecting the rule of law, democracy, human rights, freedom and the interests of all Hong Kong and Macau residents.”
“Anyone, at any time, who dares challenge the bottom-line of One Country, Two Systems, dares to oppose China and disrupt Hong Kong or Macau, shall be heavily punished,”
“Hong Kong and Macau residents should remain vigilant against anti-China forces,” Xia added. “The American and Western external forces will not willingly give in either – and they may counter-attack anytime.” Xia was not specific about alleged activity by foreign powers.
He also said that residents in the two cities are not by-standers, but participants, implementers and beneficiaries of the the “patriots only” systems. He was referring to the 2021 electoral revamp that ensured only “patriots” stood for office, effectively barring traditional democrats from running.
“In order to implement the patriot-only governance, we must resolutely crack down on all anti-China forces and leave no gaps, while firmly fight against American and Western foreign forces to safeguard Hong Kong and Macau,” Xia added.
Tam Yiu-chung, a Hong Kong delegate to the National People’s Congress, said on RTHK on Tuesday morning that the “anti-China forces” were not referring to people with different political opinions in general: “it was a much more serious phrase.”
“Of course, for some oppositional, or pro-democracy factions, I think they should consider making adjustments according to the new situation,” Tam added.
But Avery Ng, a member and former chairperson of the League of Social Democrats, said he “could not understand what Xia or other top officials were talking about,” when he met the press before appearing in court on Tuesday morning.
“In my personal opinion, loyal opposition means fake opposition, who are all talk,” Ng said.
Ng said that, currently in Hong Kong, the space left for opposition is already very narrow: “many parties are almost silenced, including us.”
“I hope Beijing and Hong Kong officials can understand Hong Kong’s situation nowadays. It is not about whether there is an opposition obstructing them,” Ng added.
The League of Social Democrats was one of the last remaining pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong.
Earlier on Sunday, it was “forced to delete” online posts that were allegedly violating the national security law. Members of the group also had their homes searched and some were summoned to meetings with national security police ahead of the July 1 Handover anniversary.
Ng told reporters that he could not comment on the meetings with law enforcement but he said the league will “try its best to make its voice heard in the gaps.”