“The only way for Hongkongers to achieve democracy is to become independent instead of seeking autonomy under the rule of China,” Andy Chan Ho-tin, the founder of the banned Hong Kong National Party, told Breitbart News.
Chan was nominated this month for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts against communist rule in the nominally autonomous city, which remains in the throes of a pro-democracy protest movement that has brought millions out onto its streets. Those who nominated him note that, unlike other members of the pro-democracy movement seeking merely to keep autonomy under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy that keeps Beijing as Hong Kong’s capital, Chan has for years advocated sovereignty as an independent state.
Chan founded the Hong Kong National Party in 2016, two years after participating in the Umbrella Movement protests that first unsettled Beijing’s hand-picked government in the city. That year, authorities banned him from running for office because he refused to say he supported Chinese sovereignty over Hong Kong in a ballot interview with officials; China demands anyone running for office in the country bow to Beijing’s ultimate authority.
The Hong Kong government later declared the party itself illegal; Chan has faced consistent police harassment, detention, and persecution since.
Speaking to Breitbart News this week via email, Chan predicted that the current lull in the protest movement – largely the product of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak forcing locals to avoid crowded public spaces – is temporary.
“The protests will definitely come back when the coronavirus outbreak is over. And more people would join the protests, as the government has performed extremely poorly,” Chan noted. “The protests have cooled down a little bit and then the Wuhan coronavirus broke out. The coronavirus outbreak happened to multiply the effect of the protests. The economy is facing the worst challenge in a few decades.”
Chan noted that the virus originated in China and the Hong Kong government refused to close all its borders to Chinese citizens to prevent the virus from spreading – a choice that prompted thousands of medical workers to strike, protesting that the government was not adequately caring for them. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam nonetheless insisted on leaving three border crossings open, arguing that the links between Hong Kong and China are too strong to cut them completely.
At press time, Hong Kong has documented 58 Wuhan coronavirus cases and one death. The result has been international travel limitations on Hong Kong as well as China to contain the virus.
“Now Hong Kong people were blocked by many countries and considered as Chinese. This reminds Hong Kong people why we should pursue independence from China or we would be isolated by the world,” Chan told Breitbart News. “All in all, the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak once again reminds us China is a serious threat to the world in many ways, that we should contain and isolate China. Hongkongers have to distinguish ourselves apart from Chinese.”
Chan also made the case that it is impossible to trust China to grant true autonomy via “One Country, Two Systems.” Beijing agreed to the policy in 1997, following the United Kingdom’s surrender of Hong Kong to China, vowing to respect capitalism and democracy in Hong Kong so long as Hong Kong did not try to secede and form its own country.
“When we deal with China, we must [be] aware that they always lie and do not obey the contracts. Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia all are autonomous regions and they were promised to have autonomy. However, ‘autonomous regions’ means colonies in reality. People and culture are being erased from the soil,” Chan said. “’One Country, Two Systems’ is the same case. We were promised to have autonomy, but we are being colonized instead. The only way for Hongkongers to achieve democracy is to become independent instead of seeking autonomy under the rule of China and falling into [Beijing’s] trap.”
The Nobel Committee confirmed this month that it had received Chan’s official nomination, submitted by Professor Jason Michael Morgan of Japan’s Reitaku University with support from Hidetoshi Ishii, vice president of the Free Indo-Pacific Alliance. Nobel Peace Prize nominations must come from individuals meeting one of a set of criteria, among them university professors, members of national lawmaking bodies or governments, or prior winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Identifying as a Hongkonger, he yearned for his motherland to be a country of freedom and democracy instead of authoritarianism. Andy Chan Ho-Tin’s ideas caught fire in the hearts of other young Hong Kongers — today, approximately 80 percent of young people in Hong Kong recognize themselves as Hongkongers, not Chinese,” Morgan wrote in his nomination letter. “Since June of 2019, young people in Hong Kong have been embroiled in an existential struggle for basic civil rights, such as the right to a fair trial, the right to a jury trial, and the right to assemble and exchange ideas. The Hong Kong police force and other mainland security forces have responded to Hong Kongers pleas for peace and democracy with violence, intimidation, and mass arrests.”
“Unbowed, Andy Chan Ho-Tin and his fellow activists fight on, seeking to achieve in Hong Kong what was denied with tanks and machine guns at Tiananmen Square some three decades before,” Morgan concluded.
The Nobel Peace Prize committee received a general nomination on behalf of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement in 2019, but ultimately chose to award Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia. The movement again received a nomination for 2020 on behalf of American Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. James McGovern (D-MA).
Chan has been active in anti-communist advocacy in Hong Kong since the 2014 Umbrella Movement, which demanded that the Hong Kong government allow residents to choose their representatives. Hongkongers do not elect their chief executive in an open election; a chosen committee representing various special interests chooses from among candidates approved by Beijing. Similarly, Hong Kong residents can only vote for some seats in their legislature, the Legislative Council (LegCo), while others are appointed by special interest groups.
In 2016, Chan founded the Hong Kong National Party, which explicitly advocates for independence from China. Hong Kong banned Chan from running for office in July of that year, claiming that he had not vowed to stop advocating for independence, a requirement for running for office.
“To become the first political party ever banned by the Hong Kong Communist Colonial Government from joining a democratic election, we are honoured,” the Hong Kong National Party said in an official statement at the time. By September 2018, Hong Kong had banned the entire party.
Chan nonetheless participated in the pro-democracy movement that rose to prominence in mid-2019, triggered by a proposed law to allow China to extradite anyone president in Hong Kong if they violated communist laws.
“We are now in the 21st century, the year of 2019. It is ridiculous to me that there is still such a massive communist country in the world. What was not finished by our predecessors now falls upon our shoulders. It is time for us to end communism,” Chan said in September.