Beijing official pushes Article 23 enactment

Local | Phoenix Un 6 Sep 2018

Senior Beijing official Huang Liuquan says when the Basic Law's Article 23 is enacted, it should regulate advocacy and action to bring about independence in different categories.

The deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office also wants more promotion against independence to be organized, to let young people know more about their country and the Basic Law.

These suggestions come as the government faces mounting pressure from Beijing and the pro-Beijing camp to legislate Article 23 in defense of national security, as independence advocacy flares anew in universities with the start of the new academic year.

Huang boosted the pressure with his comments on the sidelines of the Pan-Pearl River Delta forum, held in Guangzhou yesterday, as he reiterated the Central government had zero tolerance for independence advocacy.

He said this advocacy clearly breached the Basic Law, and Article 23 had mentioned the SAR government should legislate to prohibit seven actions that threaten national security, such as treason, secession and sedition.

"Speeches and behaviors of independence advocacy should be regulated by distinguishing them into different situations, and I believe the SAR government will handle this when enacting Article 23," Huang said. He was also asked about the speeches regarding independence advocacy made by presidents of several students' unions of Hong Kong universities.

He said there should be more done in promoting anti-independence, and hoped youngsters would be more proactive about learning the history of the country and Hong Kong.

"After educating them about the country, the situation will be alleviated," Huang said.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said Huang's words showed that Article 23 enactment will be even harsher than the attempt in 2003.

"One may be found guilty by merely making inciting speech, and not only restricted to violence and collective political movements," Lau said. "The legislative version in 2003 is no longer suitable, as it was loose due to rejection from the opposition camp, but back then, the threat to national security was not that severe."

He believes what Huang said distinguishes the types of independence advocacy meant the severity of each behavior to national security. "There are differences between making inciting speeches to provoke violence and collusion with foreign powers," Lau said.

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