The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's government reiterated on Monday that the notion of Hong Kong independence is intolerable and impractical as "the SAR is an inseparable part of the country".
The government's Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung and Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung made the remarks in response to recent social media discussion of pro-independence calls made by some university student union leaders during orientation activities.
Cheung, the city's No 2 official, emphasized that there is no room for such advocacy, which calls for the secession of the SAR from the country.
Noting that the core values of Hong Kong, including the rule of law, must be retained, Cheung also underscored that national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national security and national interests must be safeguarded.
Yeung stressed that such advocacy is impossible to achieve, whether from a legal perspective, in terms of history or the actual social situation. It is also contrary to the fact that the SAR is an inalienable part of the nation, he said.
It is unnecessary and improper to discuss Hong Kong independence in schools, Yeung said, especially at university inauguration ceremonies. The ceremonies, open to all students and symbolizing the commencement of new educational stages, are not proper occasions to speak about such advocacy, he said.
Chen Dong, deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, also expressed his firm stance against any words or deeds that spread the notion of Hong Kong independence. When attending the inauguration ceremony of a local youth association, he expressed his hope that youth elites in Hong Kong take the lead in safeguarding national security and the "one country, two systems" principle.
Earlier in the day, Au Cheukhei, president of the student union at Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Anthony Suen Ho-yin, another member of the union, both spoke about Hong Kong independence in their speeches at the university's inauguration ceremony for undergraduates. They both called for open discussion of such advocacy on campus.
Au also encouraged the city's students to oppose "unjustified and ridiculous" issues in society with "action" when necessary.
After the ceremony, Rocky Tuan Sung-chi, vice-chancellor and president of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, declared that universities in the city "will never support" pro-independence advocacy.
Noting that every student could enjoy the right to freely express their opinions at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Tuan also emphasized that any discussions must be conducted in compliance with relevant principles.
He said he had not seen any actions endangering such freedom.