The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council (HKMAO) on Tuesday accused the "primaries" organized by the opposition camp and extreme anti-government forces, as well as separatists in Hong Kong, of violating the law and said it will not tolerate any act of manipulating the upcoming Legislative Council (LegCo) elections of Hong Kong in September.
Chinese mainland experts said that if foreign forces' interference is spotted or the plan to subvert the state power is confirmed, this would be the first major case involving damaging China's national security in Hong Kong after the enactment of the national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
A spokesperson of the office said in a statement on Tuesday that the "primaries" organized by the opposition camp in Hong Kong are a manipulation of the LegCo election and a blatant challenge to the HKSAR Basic Law and the national security law for the HKSAR. The office will firmly support an investigation into this illegal act.
The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR also said in a statement released Monday evening that it condemned the city's opposition camp for orchestrating illegal "primaries," saying that such political activity is suspected of violating the national security law for Hong Kong and the local election law.
Tian Feilong, a legal expert on Hong Kong affairs at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the "primaries" organized by the opposition camp is neither a normal political activity nor an inner-party election, but an act to mobilize extreme anti-government and separatist forces to manipulate and even hijack the public's will to serve their political purpose of subverting the state power.
"Candidates who participated in the 'primaries' haven't gone through any qualification examination, and most of them are all known for their radical political views of supporting violence and riots, and many of them even have strong anti-government and separatist sentiments," Tian said.
Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong affairs at Nankai University in Tianjin, said that in Western democratic countries, primaries are conducted by the political parties to select their candidate for the general elections, but the "primaries" made by the opposition camp this time were not the same case seen in Western countries' system.
"Although they claimed that they were selecting candidates for the 2020 LegCo elections, they have no legal and neutral election commission, and have no authority to get eligible voters' data in the city. That means anyone can vote, and the candidates excluded many centrists in the opposition camp, so the 'primaries' can't show the will of the people at all, Li said.
"What they want is to build momentum in advance to create an atmosphere that they have the support of the majority," Li said.
Tian noted that this is actually a pre-election campaign to build momentum, and this is unfair for the pro-establishment camp's candidates as well as centrists that don't run any primary or get isolated by the "primaries" organized by the opposition camp. "It was like jumping the gun before the race."
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday that the HKSAR government has received numerous complaints that the "primaries" were unfair and violated the government's public gathering ban for controlling and preventing the COVID-19 epidemic situation. Hong Kong authorities will continue to investigate and will respond to any illegal practices in these activities.
The HKMAO said in the statement that the main organizer of the "primaries," Tai Yiu-ting, a radical Hong Kong anti-government political activist, was also the main organizer of the illegal Occupy Central movement, and an advocate of separatism, as well as a proxy of foreign forces in Hong Kong. "It has already been proven that Tai is the chief culprit of creating chaos in the HKSAR."
Some radical forces also threatened or forced the "candidates" to sign a "statement" to promise that if they get elected as lawmakers of the city, they will veto the financial budget plan of the HKSAR government and paralyze the government so that they can force the chief executive to accept their demands, and their real purpose is to seize the governing power of the city and overthrow the HKSAR government, the HKMAO statement said.
Such acts are suspected of violating Article 22 of the national security law for Hong Kong and the local election law, said the central government's liaison office in the HKSAR in the statement on Monday.
Tian said if the foreign forces' involvement is found behind the "primaries" or the HKSAR law-enforcement agencies find the case involves the issues which fall under the jurisdiction of the central government, this could be the first major case handled by the central government's national security office in Hong Kong after the enactment of the national security law.
Hong Kong media reported that signing the "statement" is not a compulsory condition for the "candidates" of the "primaries," but some radical groups have forced the "candidates" to sign the "statement" and this also created divergence within the opposition camp, as some politicians with centrist views were worried about getting disqualified in the formal elections due to the extreme stance to paralyze the government.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the biggest pro-establishment political party in the HKSAR, also released their candidate list on Tuesday.
Starry Lee Wai-king, the party chief of the DAB, said at a press conference that the opposition camp is trying to paralyze the government by controlling the LegCo, and they would force the central government to get involved to handle the situation with military forces, and then the Western countries will sanction Hong Kong, so that all the people of the city will "burn with them."
She urged voters to "save themselves and save Hong Kong," to vote for the constructive forces in the upcoming elections in September.