Civic Party tests law in US meeting

Local | Mandy Zheng 5 Aug 2020

US consul general Hanscom Smith met Civic Party chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit at his law offices yesterday for the first time since the national security law took effect.

Party colleague Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu also attended at a time when many diplomats have held off such meetings due to uncertainty over the law, which criminalizes facilitating foreign interference.

"It's just a regular meeting on recent updates of Hong Kong," Leong said -- but did not elaborate further. "We've talked basically about anything that's been happening recently."

The party claimed it is currently in crisis after spending at least HK$3 million on preparations for the legislative elections, but would not receive any subsidy after candidates Yeung, Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, Kwok Ka-ki and Cheng Tat-hung were barred from running.

Vice chairman Bill Lay Yan-pau said: "The disqualification won't kill us, but we could dry up money wise."

The meeting follows criticism from the European Union over the election's postponement and the disqualification.

A total of 12 pan-democratic candidates were told on Thursday they would be barred from running, a day before the elections were postponed for a year.

The EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security, Josep Borrell, said the postponement "would delay the renewal of its democratic mandate and call into question the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Basic Law."

But the Chinese mission to the EU said the postponement was necessary "to ensure the safety and health of residents and the safety, fairness and impartiality of the elections."

It also rebuked foreign governments' interference as the Hong Kong polls are "China's local elections, and hence purely Hong Kong's internal affairs."

France said on Monday it would not ratify an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, citing the law as "a change that compromises the inherited framework of the 1997 handover."

It joins New Zealand, Canada, Britain, Australia and Germany who have already suspended such treaties since June.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin lashed the French decision.

"It is groundless to say that [the national security law] violates one country, two systems and weakens Hong Kong's high degree of autocracy and fundamental freedom," Wang said.

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