Update: HK police charge 47 anti-govt figures with subversion ahead of electoral reform
Published: Feb 28, 2021 12:50 PM


The Hong Kong Police Force on Sunday formally charged 47 people involved in illegal primaries, including scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting, with conspiring to subvert state power. They will be taken to court on Monday.

Experts said it sent out a clear signal that they would be held accountable for their ill-intentioned moves in challenging the constitutional order of Hong Kong ahead of imminent electoral reform.

Those charged by the Hong Kong police included anti-government group Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, disqualified legislator Leung Kwok-hung and anti-government legislator Jeremy Tam Man-ho, according to local media reports.

"Being formally charged also means that their political careers are over," Tang Fei, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.  

It will lead to some seats being replaced in the upcoming Legislative Council (LegCo) and chief executive elections, as central and local authorities are mulling electoral reform plans with the aim of ensuring the fundamental principle of patriots governing Hong Kong.

Fixing the loopholes in Hong Kong's political and electoral systems is likely to become a major topic at the upcoming two sessions, the most important annual political event in China.

Hong Kong scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting on Sunday afternoon reported to a local police station, local media reports said. He was one of 53 people arrested on January 6 on charges of subversion, including some who were involved in organizing and planning the so-called "35-plus" political strategy in 2020. Some who were arrested but released on bail had been told to report to police on Sunday. 

Top authorities on Hong Kong affairs, including the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong, all voiced support for the arrest in January, calling the operation "necessary and a must" as the so-called political strategy aimed to force the chief executive of the HKSAR to resign and paralyze the government, and the so-called primaries were suspected of subversion. 

Local political group "Power for Democracy", which organized the illegal primaries to challenge the constitutional order of Hong Kong, announced on Saturday it was ceasing operations and disbanding the organization. It also vowed to serve the city under the Basic Law and the national security law for Hong Kong. 

The so-called illegal primaries were suspected of violating two types of laws - Hong Kong's local electoral laws, as there's no such primary election in Hong Kong, and the national security law for Hong Kong, as the illegal primaries aimed to paralyze the HKSAR government, cause a constitutional crisis and call for foreign sanctions, which all fall into the category of violating the national security law for Hong Kong, Tian Feilong, a Hong Kong affairs expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"The action was also in line with the fundamental demand for patriots governing Hong Kong," Tian said. 

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