Language and politics in Hong Kong: National Security and the promotion of topolect

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From the Hong Kong Language Learning Association:

Announcement Regarding Suspension of Hong Kong Language Learning Association

Given recent events, wherein personnel from the Hong Kong National Security Department (NSD) visited both my former residence and the residence of my family members for searches and inquiries, alleging a violation of the National Security Law in connection with an entry for the Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis (SLHK) ’s Cantonese essay competition, and demanding its removal, I have decided, with the guidance of legal counsel, to cease all operations of the Hong Kong Language Learning Association, effective immediately, in order to ensure the safety of my family and former members. Dissolution procedures are also initiated.

On the 22nd of August, officers from the Hong Kong National Security Department arrived at my former residence at 7:20 AM, requesting a meeting with me. However, as I was not present, my family informed them that I was out of town, making a meeting unfeasible. Nevertheless, the National Security officers entered the residence of my family members without a search warrant, and they requested that my family relay their demand to remove a specific fictional essay article from a competition held by the Hong Kong Language Learning Association three years ago.

Following this incident, I promptly contacted the National Security officer to inquire about the situation. The officers informed me that they had conducted a search of my former cake shop earlier that day. During this communication, the National Security officer mentioned my family and the past members of the SLHK, requesting the immediate removal of the aforementioned essay article. Considering the circumstances and the safety of my family, I took immediate action to remove the article on the same day.

The officers from the National Security Department emphasized that their actions were prompted by their unsuccessful attempts to contact me by the Central and Western District Office, and after consultation with the Department of Justice, they concluded that the essay article in question violated the National Security Law. However, upon reviewing my email correspondence with the Central and Western District Office, I found no previous communication or notice requesting the removal of any articles prior to December 21, 2021.

Since 2020, the Hong Kong Language Learning Association has been conducting community activities and organizational work under my sole decision-making. The Association has organized events such as the Cantonese essay competition through the “Community Participation Funding Scheme” from the District Council. However, the funding allocation from the Home Affairs Department has been pending for more than 30 months, causing a significant financial burden on my part.

In light of the circumstances mentioned above and to avoid any adverse impact on my family members and former participants of the Association, I have taken the difficult decision to halt all operations of the SLHK. This decision has been made in consideration of the legal risks involved in continuing its activities.

It is important to note that, since 2020, I have been solely responsible for all decisions and activities of the SLHK, including community events and the management of social media platforms and the website. I would like to clarify that my family members, any named members, or individuals residing in Hong Kong have not been involved in the Association’s activities or operations in any capacity.

The Hong Kong Language Learning Association, established in 2013, has served for ten years with the purpose of safeguarding the linguistic rights of Hong Kong people. It has organized numerous events to promote linguistic culture and language rights, particularly focusing on Cantonese and traditional Chinese characters.

In 2018, due to my opposition to the mandatory Putonghua graduation test at Baptist University, I received death threats and was forced to cease my hospital internship. Subsequently, the Hong Kong Language Learning Association was reported by a certain major political party as a “radical anti-China” organization, and I reported this to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Even as a volunteer, I helped organize Hong Kong language and cultural activities. However, to this day, I find myself barred from entering mainland China since the beginning of this year, with my Mainland Travel Permit invalided.


Moreover, a young man who previously wrote against the policy of teaching Chinese in Putonghua was charged with “inciting secession,” receiving sentences of nearly four years. Regrettably, I have had to halt my efforts to safeguard Cantonese in Hong Kong.

Earlier, on the SLHK’s website, I published an article with screenshots, exposing instances of examiners selling confidential information regarding public school examination grading on the Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu. This ultimately led to the arrest of one suspect. The Hong Kong Police Force has repeatedly invited me to return to Hong Kong for court proceedings in relation to this case. However, given the current risks to my personal safety upon returning to Hong Kong, I am unable to comply with their request.

Due to the current circumstances and in light of the SLHK’s lack of financial resources and personnel, coupled with the associated legal risks, I have made the decision to halt all operations of the Association. Consequently, I will also initiate dissolution procedures in accordance with legal advice. Additionally, I retain the right to seek compensation for outstanding payments from the “Community Participation Funding Scheme” provided by the Hong Kong Government.

For any inquiries regarding the dissolution procedures of the Hong Kong Language Learning Association, please feel free to contact me via email at

Andrew Lok Hang Chan

Chairman of the Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis

28 August, 2023

Newspaper article on the same subject:

Hong Kong Cantonese-language advocacy group closes after national security police raid founder’s home

Andrew Chan, founder and convenor of Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis, said that national security police had visited his former home in Hong Kong and demanded the removal of a fictional piece of writing that was submitted to a competition organised by the group.

by Irene Chan, Hong Kong Free Press (August 28, 2023)

It is obvious that it has now, with the passage of the so-called National Security Law in Hong Kong, become dangerous to advocate for usage of Cantonese in the former British colony, where Cantonese thrived.


Selected readings

[Thanks to Don Keyser]


  1. AntC said,

    August 28, 2023 @ 3:44 pm

    Social values

    * Freedom (Chinese: 自由; pinyin: zìyóu)
    * Equality (Chinese: 平等; pinyin: píngděng)
    * Justice (Chinese: 公正; pinyin: gōngzhèng)
    * Rule of law (Chinese: 法治; pinyin: fǎzhì)

  2. Jenny Chu said,

    August 28, 2023 @ 8:14 pm

    Does anyone have the text of the "fictional essay article"?

  3. John Swindle said,

    August 28, 2023 @ 9:24 pm

    This is really sad.

  4. Mark Metcalf said,

    August 29, 2023 @ 10:13 am

    Here’s a link to a rough translation of the article:


  5. Jonathan Smith said,

    August 29, 2023 @ 12:26 pm

    The archived original it seems FYI

  6. Wanda said,

    August 30, 2023 @ 11:19 am

    The phrase "fictional essay article" confused me. I thought it meant an essay that didn't actually exist, like the Necronomicon. I didn't think it meant a piece of fiction. So I was really surprised when he said that he took it down.
    Does anyone know, is this guy safe now wherever he is?

  7. David Marjanović said,

    September 1, 2023 @ 4:30 am

    The phrase "fictional essay article" confused me. I thought it meant an essay that didn't actually exist, like the Necronomicon.

    It's a mistake for fictional-essay article. You know, like living room.

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