Hong Kong is taking unprecedented steps to ban a pro-independence party, in the government’s strongest action yet against the movement pushing for separation from China. Police on Tuesday delivered documents to the Hong Kong National party founder, Andy Chan Ho-tin, detailing their recommendations to the city’s secretary of security that the group halt operations. The development marks the first time since the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997 that it has sought to outlaw a political organisation. A letter addressed to Chan said security officials believed the party should be shut down “in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”, according to photos of the documents posted on the group’s Facebook page.
In a press conference, the Hong Kong security secretary, John Lee, said if the party was banned, anyone who attends meetings or gives money to the group could be punished with a fine of HKD$50,000 ($6,400) and two years in jail.
“In Hong Kong we have freedom of association, but that right is not without restriction,” he said, according to Hong Kong Free Press.