A slogan often chanted at past June 4 vigils in Hong Kong may be illegal depending on the circumstances, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday, amid growing suggestions from pro-Beijing figures that calls to “end one-party rule” in China may violate the national security law.
However, Lam told reporters that the matter is too complicated to give a yes or no answer, and it’s not up to her to decide whether a slogan is illegal or not. Demanding a clear-cut answer on such a question, she added, is a bit “coercive."
“Authorities have to look at the circumstances in which slogans are uttered to determine their meaning, and assess whether any laws have been violated. Of course, you also need law enforcement agencies to gather evidence, which would then have to be forwarded to the Department of Justice to ascertain whether this is a prosecutable offence under the law, before the courts make a final determination,” Lam said.
She added that the national security law – imposed by Beijing almost a year ago – has made it even more clear that it is everyone’s responsibility to uphold national security, and any act of subversion against the mainland leadership is prohibited.
The national security law, Lam said, would have a bearing on any future determinations of the legality or otherwise of any slogans, actions or activities.
The CE added that it is indisputable that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, and must uphold the national constitution, which states that no one can disrupt the socialist system in the mainland.
"Many things have in fact happened in Hong Kong in the past two, three years. The introduction of the national security law last year has had a major impact," Lam said.
"We cannot pretend that such an important legislation didn't bring any changes to Hong Kong."
Some pro-Beijing figures have recently taken issue with the use of the ‘end one party rule’ slogan by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China – which organises the annual Tiananmen vigil to commemorate those slaughtered in Beijing’s brutal crackdown on the student pro-democracy movement in 1989.
This year's vigil has been banned for the second year running, with police again citing the Covid-19 pandemic.
The alliance lists ending “one-party dictatorship” as one of its five ‘operational goals’ on its website.
Mainland officials have in the past said such slogans don’t make sense, as the Chinese Communist Party already leads a multi-party cooperation system.