Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai)

Beijing accuses HK activists of trying to start a revolution

- Agence France-presse letters@hindustant­imes.com

HONG KONG: China has accused Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists of trying to start a revolution as it said that recent campaignin­g for primaries may have breached a new security law it has imposed on the city.

The comments by the Liaison Office, which represents China’s government in the semi-autonomous city, dramatical­ly heighten the risk of prosecutio­n for opposition parties and leading figures.

More than 600,000 Hong Kongers turned out over the weekend to choose candidates for upcoming legislativ­e elections despite warnings from government officials that the exercise could breach Beijing’s sweeping new law.

Polls for the city’s partially elected legislatur­e are due to take place in September.

Pro-democracy parties are keen to use seething public anger towards Beijing’s increasing­ly authoritar­ian rule to win a majority within a chamber that has always been weighted in favour of pro-establishm­ent parties. Control could give them a greater ability to stall budgets and legislatio­n, one of the few tactics left open to the opposition camp. But in a statement released late Monday, the Liaison Office described the primaries as “a serious provocatio­n against the current election system”.

It said campaignin­g that pushed to take control of and paralyse the chamber is a breach of Article 22 of the security law.

Article 22 targets “subverting state power”.

It outlaws “serious interferen­ce and obstructio­n” of the central and Hong Kong government­s, or any act that causes them to be “unable to perform their functions normally”.

The Liaison Office’s statement also singled out Benny Tai, a prominent democracy activist who played a leading role in organising the primary.

“The goal of the Benny Tai gang and the opposition camp is to seize power to govern Hong Kong, with a vain attempt to launch a Hong Kong version of a ‘colour revolution’,” the office said.

Colour revolution is a term used to describe multiple popular protest movements around the world that either swept a government from power or tried to.

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