TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The U.K.'s last Governor of Hong Kong criticized the Chinese government's efforts to cancel an upcoming speech by Hong Kong democracy leader Andy Chan Ho-tin (陳浩天) at Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondent's Club (FCC), labeling the interference as "quite simply wrong."
"There is no justification for censoring people because you don't like what they have to say," Chris Patten said in a statement emailed to AFP, published on August 6.
Chan, Convener of the Hong Kong National Party and prominent political figure is scheduled to give a speech titled "Hong Kong Nationalism: A Politically Incorrect Guide to Hong Kong under Chinese Rule" at the FCC on August 14.
Last month it was announced that the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party will be disbanded on so-called national security grounds.
After learning of the speech, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has pressured the Foreign Correspondent's Club to cancel Chan's speech, threatening to also disband the club.
Patten said to AFP that freedom of speech is one of the "hallmarks of an open society living under the rule of law" and that freedom is enshrined in the transfer of sovereignty agreement between China and the U.K.
"I have consistently argued against the idea of advocating independence for Hong Kong," Patten said, "but I also continue to argue for Hong Kong's liberties and local autonomy. It is quite simply wrong for Beijing's Communist foreign ministry to get involved with an issue which should be determined within Hong Kong."
The FCC released a statement on August 6, stating that they "believe that in free societies such as Hong Kong it is vitally important to allow people to speak and debate freely, even if one does not agree with their particular views."
Chan's speech at the press club is expected to go ahead on August 14.