China made a strong move this Monday to underline the fact that there will be zero tolerance for any kind of talk about independence for Hong Kong. The Communist Partly of China swiftly opposed any contradictory opinions. China’s top legislature disqualified two Hong Kong lawmakers. The newly elected officials did not take an oath of allegiance to the mini-constitution of the territory. Also, they were advocating Hong Kong’s independence. The top legislature in Beijing made it clear that it is not going to tolerate any dissent in the Hong Kong legislature. There will be no talk of independence in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Lawmakers Protest When Taking Oath
Beijing had announced its intention to disqualify the two Hong Kong lawmakers in advance. That led to angry protests in Hong Kong this Sunday. Thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate. The protests were reminiscent of the Umbrella Movement campaign. However, the pro-democracy movement from 2014 had drawn a much larger crowd. The police made use of pepper spray as well as batons to push back protesters. Also, the police made four arrests during the protests.
The two lawmakers that China disqualified were elected recently. They belong to a new pro-independence political party and took the opportunity of their oaths to express their political views. The two lawmakers were supposed to take the oath that is administered before taking a seat in the Legislative Council of the country. Instead of saying the oath as it was, the lawmakers made changes to it and stood their political ground in advocating for the independence of Hong Kong. They inserted a word for China that is a disparaging Japanese term. They vowed to defend the “Hong Kong” nation. Also, they had a flag that said: “Hong Kong is not part of China”. The oaths were invalidated. Any attempt for the lawmakers to take them again resulted in chaos in the legislature.
Beijing Issues “Interpretation” of Basic Law
Beijing carefully looked at the events taking place in Hong Kong. This Monday it took a stand against the attitude of the two lawmakers. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing issued an “interpretation” of Hong Kong’s Basic Law. The Basic Law is a mini-constitution that was agreed upon when Hong Kong was handed over from British rule in 1997. China now wants this “interpretation” to be legally binding for Hong Kong.
Beijing says that any lawmaker that does not take the oath of allegiance or violates the oath will face disqualification. Also, there will be legal consequences to their actions. Li Fei is the chairman of the Basic Law Committee of the National People’s Congress. He says that Hong Kong lawmakers have just one chance of taking the oath properly.
“Retaking the oath is out of the question once the initial oath taking process has breached the legal requirements and been ruled invalid,”
said Li Fei.
The chairman of the Basic Law Committee added that China is going to confront pro-independence forces in Beijing firmly and without any ambiguity. He added that advocating “separatism” is not just a political opinion, but a legal issue.
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