The controversy surrounding the issue of ‘Hong Kong independence’ continues to escalate as mainland Chinese media as well as pro-Beijing lobbies in Hong Kong intensify their rhetoric against Hong Kong students who recently put up pro-independence banners.
According to Chinese website Haiwai Net, the Federation of Alumni Associations of Chinese Colleges and Universities in Hong Kong (hereafter referred to as ‘the Federation’) has issued a statement condemning Hong Kong independence.
The Federation stated that “freedom of speech must not violate the law and standards of virtue, otherwise freedom will not only be abused, but it will also bring about more contradictions and disputes within society. ‘Hong Kong independence’ contravenes the Basic Law. Opposing ‘Hong Kong independence’ is the bottom line of the Chinese people. Allowing this situation to spread would have a harmful influence on every university as well as on the entire fabric of society.”
The Federation called on universities to “resolutely crack down on illegal ‘Hong Kong independence’ propaganda” so that “university campuses can return to being places of learning and knowledge.”
Set up in 1996 on the eve of the handover from Britain to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Federation is a pro-Beijing organization.
The Federation’s statement has been widely quoted on Chinese media, feeding into their anti-democracy propaganda.
“‘Hong Kong independence’ is a blind alley, everyone should have no doubt about it,” remarked Haiwai Net, adding that “matters of principle cannot be ignored.”
On September 12 pro-Beijing activists in Hong Kong gathered outside the High Court, demanding that the Hong Kong government prosecute students who put up “illegal” pro-independence banners on campuses.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, a Beijing loyalist, said that the banners are not “a question of freedom of speech”, but “a constitutional issue of respect for the ‘one country, two systems'” formula. She rebuked accusations that the government was infringing on the academic freedom of educational institutions, saying that critics were “trying to muddle things up”.
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