CCP-Linked Figure Calls on Tiananmen Vigil Group to Disband

An editorial in the Ming Pao says the organizers of a now-banned candlelight vigil could face prosecution for subversion.
2021-06-07
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CCP-Linked Figure Calls on Tiananmen Vigil Group to Disband A woman holds candles in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on June 4, 2021, after police closed the venue where Hong Kong people traditionally gather annually to mourn the victims of China's Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
AFP

The organizers of a now-banned candlelight vigil for the victims of the June 4, 1989 massacre in Beijing have been warned by a key supporter of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to disband or face prosecution.

Lo Man-tuen, vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, called on the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China to disband and cease its former activities.

"There's no question of the Alliance changing shape and carrying on in another form," Lo wrote in an editorial in the Ming Pao newspaper. "There's no room for that, and no possibility of that."

He said the group has as its aim an end to CCP rule, meaning that it would face criminal prosecution under a draconian national security law that has banned acts deemed seditious or subversive in Hong Kong since July 1, 2020.

"If they are classified as a subversive organization under the national security law, they could face the risk of criminal prosecution, as did those [opposition politicians and democracy activists] who took part in the democratic primary for the Legislative Council elections," Lo said.

Alliance spokesman Richard Tsoi said the group had heard similar warnings from other Chinese officials recently.

"We will stand firm in our work, we will not be threatened ... We do understand, from time to time, the Alliance will face political challenges," Tsoi told government broadcaster RTHK.

"Our basic stance and principle will be to continue to hold mourning activities, and to pursue truth and justice regarding June 4, 1989," he said. "We will definitely stick to that all the way."

Weighing a statement

China analyst Willy Lam said Lo may not be a high-ranking official, but forms part of the CCP's outreach arm among overseas Chinese.

"[The All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese is] not a high-ranking organization, but its views are broadly representative of Beijing's views," Lam said.

Hong Kong current affairs commentator Johnny Lau said it was better to ignore such "warnings."

"It may be couched in the language of the CCP family, and everyone seems to be regarding it as an in-house statement," Lau said. "But while it may represent [the CCP's view], it's not yet an official comment."

"It would be better to wait for an official comment or action before responding," he said.

In May, Lo penned another op-ed piece saying that the Alliance is trying to start a "color revolution" in Hong Kong under the guise of "patriotic democracy," accusing it of collusion with foreign powers, also a crime under the National Security Law for Hong Kong.

In March 2021, 47 opposition lawmakers and political activists were arrested and held on remand for "subversion" under the national security law for organizing a democratic primary election in August 2020.

The authorities then postponed a general election slated for September, pushing it back to December 2021 pending an overhaul of electoral rules that puts Beijing firmly in control of electoral outcomes.

Several pro-democracy groups and politicians have indicated to local media that they will boycott December's elections, in which new rules dictate that candidates must be vetted by several layers of a China-led bureaucracy before being allowed to run.

Reported by Yip Mong and Lu Xi for RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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