The new evidence is essentially Chan’s appearance and remarks at the infamous Foreign Correspondents Club lunch two weeks back, and his subsequent call for US sanctions. The lunch was essentially prompted by the first, massive, police report on why the HKNP should be banned. So we have a loop whereby: government creates story -> press covers story -> government uses this to embellish/create a new story.
The SCMP quotes Assistant Police Commissioner Rebecca Lam:
“Through taking part in and speaking at the luncheon at the FCC, the HKNP has taken a positive step to heighten its profile in furthering its unlawful advocacy for Hong Kong independence,” she said in the six-page report, that was accompanied by a transcript and footage of the talk.
“The [party’s] call for foreign intervention in the internal affairs of China and Hong Kong is particularly alarming.”
Her use of the word ‘unlawful’ (see brief discussion here) and feigned alarm over ‘foreign intervention’ reflects her (and the whole Hong Kong government’s) role as a tool: the language is Beijing’s.
Even by the standards of this contrived hysteria, the presenting of supplementary evidence is overkill. It suggests extreme eagerness at a local level – presumably Beijing’s Liaison Office – to be seen to obey panicky paranoiacs higher up the chain of command.
Even if the courts later reject the government’s attempt to ban the HKNP, this will simply confirm the ‘need’ for national security laws that override any pesky local rights stuff. The Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping requires Hong Kong to introduce ways to criminalize opinion, and thus it will happen.
A bigger problem, at least for the Hong Kong administration, is the international media. Correspondents in Hong Kong will be witnessing a pretty rare phenomenon: the gradual dismantling of freedom of expression amid the deliberate conversion of a pluralistic society to an authoritarian one. How often do you get to cover – even be part of – a story about that? For the overseas press, this is going to be a treat.
There is nothing Chief Executive Carrie Lam can do about Mainlandization. But she and her bureaucrat government are still more or less in charge of maintaining Hong Kong as a top international business hub, and they even seem to care about it. She will insist that a free flow of information, politically impartial administration and impeccable rule of law are all intact, as the press files stories showing otherwise, and the city’s image and reputation deteriorate.