Both the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council and the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region issued strong statements on Saturday expressing their resolute support for the SAR government in its bid to reign in any collusion between Hong Kong separatists and external forces.
Their backing came after the SAR government condemned remarks by Benny Tai Yiu-ting, associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, on Monday.
Speaking at a seminar organized by a Taiwan separatist group in Taipei, Tai, who initiated the illegal "Occupy Central" movement in 2014, called for the establishment of an "independent" Hong Kong, which he believed should be decided through "democratic self-determination".
Although Hong Kong separatism has now been disguised as "self-determinism", which sounds less alarming on the surface, the two are in fact the same. Hence self-determinists who tried to run in the recent by-election of Hong Kong Legislative Council were rightly disqualified by the returning officers. And the opposition camp, which has relied heavily on the support of the radical localists, suffered setbacks in the by-election held on March 11.
What the moderate "pan-democrats" need to do if they want to win people's support is to stay away from any form of separatism and help bring Hong Kong's development back on track through further integration into the country's overall development strategy. Calls such as Tai's for Hong Kong's "self-determination" lack both reason and truth, but those making them are willing to overlook these obvious flaws in their arguments if they can find a soapbox on which to deliver their message.
But what Tai said in Taipei has given him away. Looking back, it is easy to see that by calling for so-called real democracy, he was concealing his true motivation in orchestrating the "Occupy" campaign, which was to foster radical localism to support his separatist delusion.
Tai's remarks came after the Taiwan Travel Act was signed into law in the United States, emboldening those on the island seeking "independence" and that may have rubbed off on Tai. These separatists should not let overconfidence make them incautious. They should not underestimate the determination of the central leaders to fend off any attempt to split the country, nor the distrust most Chinese have of them.
Tai spoke in Taipei barely a week after President Xi Jinping said without any ambiguity at the closing of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress on March 20 that not an inch of Chinese territory would be allowed to be taken away, these should not be mistaken for empty words.