Authorities will take action against people who plan to harm national security on “a special occasion in a few days time,” Hong Kong’s security chief has said. Sunday will mark the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.

Secretary for Security Chris Tang did not specify which “special occasion” he was referring to while speaking to reporters on Monday, but said “many people” would use the occasion to endanger national security.

china extradition bill june 16 may james protester death leung (2) (Copy)
Photo: May James.

“It will be a special occasion in a few days’ time, many people will use this special occasion to commit acts endangering national security, such as promoting Hong Kong independence and intending to commit subversion,” Tang said, without naming any individuals or groups.

“However, I want to tell these people that if you commit these acts, we will definitely take decisive action and arrest you, and will prosecute you if there is evidence. You will not get lucky,” the security chief added.

Tang’s comments came after weeks of officials evading questions on the legality of commemorating the hundreds, perhaps thousands, who died when the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989. The security chief did not say on Monday whether mourning the crackdown was illegal.

Tang also did not say whether he would discourage individuals from taking lit candles to Victoria Park or wearing black clothes on Sunday.

The security chief said that whether someone violated the law depended on “many factors,” including their intentions and actions, and said that the authorities would gather sufficient evidence ahead of any prosecutions.

Secretary for Security Chris Tang meeting the press on May 29, 2023
Secretary for Security Chris Tang meeting the press on May 29, 2023. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and the enactment of the Beijing-imposed national security law, Hong Kong was one of the very few places on Chinese soil where public commemorations of the Tiananmen crackdown were permitted.

The authorities banned the annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in 2020 and 2021, citing the pandemic, and there was no known application to hold a public commemoration of the crackdown in Causeway Bay last year.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organised the city’s annual vigils, disbanded in 2021 following the arrests of several of its former leaders.

The Alliance, along with its ex-chair Lee Cheuk-yan, and former vice-chairs Albert Ho and Chow Hang-tung, has been charged under the sweeping security law for alleged incitement to subversion. The case against them has been moved to the High Court, where the maximum punishment for the charge is 10 years in prison.

Support HKFP  |  Policies & Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report | Apps

legal precedents hong kong
security law transformed hong kong
contact hkfp

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.