Editor’s note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it.
Authorities in Hong Kong on Monday banned the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, which reportedly has “at most a few dozen” members, on the grounds that it threatened national security and public order. In justifying the decision, the government invoked the city’s colonial-era security ordinance, which has mostly been used to combat organized crime.
Though the move was without precedent, it came as no surprise. Under President Xi Jinping, China has consistently restricted efforts to liberalize Hong Kong’s politics. In 2014, the Chinese legislature curbed proposed electoral reforms that would have allowed a broader slate of candidates in local elections, instead cementing Beijing’s role as the gatekeeper for Hong Kong’s chief executive position. And in 2016, the founder of the Hong Kong National Party, 27-year-old Andy Chan, was disqualified from running for Hong Kong’s legislature because he refused to acknowledge that Hong Kong was “an inalienable part of China,” one of the general principles of the Hong Kong Basic Law.