(TibetanReview.net, Apr13, 2016) – A group of student activists who rose to prominence during Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy movement have launched a new political party on Apr 10. The party, Demosisto, will field candidates in the city’s legislative elections later this year.
The bespectacled Joshua Wong, who became a figurehead of the Occupy Central movement, and fellow activists Nathan Law and Agnes Chow, have, in their manifesto, promised to use non-violent resistance in the fight for self determination.
The party has pledged to hold a referendum in 10 years’ time to allow Hong Kong’s seven million eligible voters to decide their own fate.
Wong, who at 19 is too young to run for the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo), has brushed aside recent comments and warnings from Beijing officials and the Hong Kong government over growing calls for independence. He has said it isn’t the new party’s main issue.
“Self-determination is … the most important political agenda for Demosisto,” the Cantonese Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Apr 11 quoted Wong as saying at the party’s launch.
“The most important thing is not whether Hong Kong can be independent or not; it’s whether Hong Kong can achieve democracy and self-governance,” he was quoted as saying. “At least let Hong Kongers decide the future of Hong Kong, rather than allowing the [ruling Chinese] Communist Party to determine our future.”
Also, Demosisto chairman Nathan Law has said that campaigning for independence was not an immediate option for the party. “Our core value is that we believe that Hong Kong people should have the right to self-determination,” he has said. “We think that if Hong Kong has the right to self-determination, then [independence] may be one of the options.”
Under the terms of the 1997 handover from Great Britain, Hong Kong was promised the continuation of its existing freedoms and separate legal jurisdiction for 50 years under a “one country, two systems” pledge from Beijing. However, what happens after that date has never been spelled out by the Chinese government.
“I hope that we will have the opportunity to determine our own future in 2047, if the self-determination movement is a success, that is,” Law has said. “There could be options [in the planned referendum] that include independence and the continuation of Chinese rule.”
Beijing is already seen as exercising influence over the Hong Kong government to make life difficult for the fledgling party’s members. Demosisto member and film director Kenneth Ip, also known as Shu Kei, had a planned radio commentary commissioned by government broadcaster RTHK canceled at short notice, sparking concerns over possible self-censorship at the station, the report said.
Demosisto is not by any means the party with the most radical position towards mainland China. The Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) announced on Apr 3, for example, that it would campaign in the forthcoming legislative elections on a pro-independence platform and against the city’s post-1997 mini-constitution, sparking a flurry of criticism from Chinese officials.