Hong Kong activists living overseas, including some on the run from arrest warrants back home, are launching a bid to unite the city’s diaspora and continue their campaign against the government and Beijing.
A group of eight, led by fugitive ex-lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who is sought by police on suspicion of breaking the national security law after he fled the city last year, urged overseas Hongkongers to sign an online “2021 Hong Kong Charter”.
The document released on Sunday calls for the “liberation” of the city and the end of China’s one-party rule – slogans which would now run afoul of the security law banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
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The document also urges the international community to “stand together, to safeguard democratic values under the threat of totalitarianism”.
The group said Hong Kong people had been stripped of the freedoms of expression and thought under the Beijing-imposed security law, and that an electoral overhaul currently being finalised by the central government was just another example of political repression.
Law, a poster boy for Hong Kong’s opposition who is seeking political asylum in Britain after fleeing the city ahead of the enactment of the security law, urged people to sign the charter online to show there support for their cause.
“Many of us fellow activists are not likely to be able to return to Hong Kong in the near future because of the national security law. But we regard it as our responsibility to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy,” Law said in an online press conference announcing the launch of the charter.
“With the 2021 Hong Kong Charter, we hope to be able to unite the diasporic communities to come together at the international front for the eventual liberation of Hong Kong.”
The others who joined Law in initiating the charter are former Occupy student leader Alex Chow Yong-kang, Germany-based Hong Kong activist Glacier Kwong Chung-ching, fugitive ex-lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, ousted pro-independence lawmaker Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang, and three other activists on the run from charges in the city – Ray Wong Toi-yeung, Sunny Cheung Kwan-yang and Brian Leung Kai-ping.
Law, Wong, Kwong and Brian Leung had also recently co-signed a petition urging the European Union not to ratify a planned deal with China – known as the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment – until the national security law and electoral overhaul imposed on Hong Kong were removed.
The 25-point charter contains statements on Hong Kong, mainland China and the international community.
While it does not mention Hong Kong independence explicitly, it states that “Hongkongers shall have the right to determine the future and affairs of Hong Kong”.
Asked how effective they thought the effort would be, Kwong said it was “too early to say”.
Back in Hong Kong, a Security Bureau spokesman warned that those joining the charter campaign could be held liable under the national security law.
The spokesman said that anyone who organised, planned, committed or participated in any acts with a view to committing secession or undermining national unification would be guilty of an offence. He also stressed it was an offence to collude with a foreign country to impose sanctions or engage in hostile activities against Hong Kong and China.
“Whoever breaks the laws, the Hong Kong government will hold them legally responsible. The Hong Kong national security law has an extraterritorial effect. Anyone who violates the national security law, no matter who he is, what background he has, and wherever he is, he will be held liable in accordance with the law.”
Lawmaker Leung Che-cheung, of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, laughed off the activists’ move.
“They just want to seek attention,” he said. “China will not be afraid of sanctions by foreign countries. China will not bargain over sovereignty or national security.”
Chan Wai-keung, a political scientist from the Hong Kong Community College of Polytechnic University, said he believed the new campaign could help Law’s group raise money.
“They would like to have the world believe that everything in Hong Kong has got worse after the handover,” Chan said, referring to the change of sovereignty in 1997.
This article Activists overseas launch new ‘Hong Kong Charter’ aimed at keeping up pressure on Beijing first appeared on South China Morning Post