Hong Kong opposition politicians resign en masse after four disqualified | World

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Pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong have resigned en masse after four of them were disqualified under a law imposed by China banning independence campaigners from holding office.

Authorities in Hong Kong said in a statement the four legislators – Kwok Ka-ki, Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok and Kenneth Leung – were expelled from the assembly for endangering national security.

The 19 members of the opposition earlier said they would resign in protest.

Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki, Kenneth Leung and Dennis Kwok speak to the media after they were disqualified
Image:
Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki, Kenneth Leung and Dennis Kwok speak to the media after they were disqualified

The banning of the four followed meetings of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The body passed a resolution to disqualify those who support Hong Kong’s independence or refused to acknowledge China’s sovereignty over the city, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

Asking outsiders to interfere in the region’s affairs is also prohibited under the new law, as is any act that threatens national security.

At a news conference confirming their disqualification, Dennis Kwok said: “From our point of view this is clearly in breach of basic law and our rights to participate in public affairs, and a failure to observe due process”.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive said lawmakers unable to uphold the basic law and pledge allegience to Hong Kong SAR should be disqualified as legilators at a briefing on Wednesday.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said it was it was necessary to maintain the rule of law and to keep to and improve the “one country, two systems’ principle”, which defines Hong Kong’s relationship with China.

The mass resignation leaves Hong Kong’s parliament with only pro-Beijing lawmakers, who already make up the majority in the chamber.

Elections to the chamber, due to be held in September, were postponed by a year by Ms Lam, who blamed the coronavirus pandemic.

But critics argued she was concerned about the opposition gaining seats after more than 600,000 people took part in an unofficial pro-democracy primary.

Last month, Beijing made it an offence to insult or denigrate its national flag, something which has happened during mass anti-Beijing protests seen in Hong Kong through much of last year.

Analysis: Beijing tightens its grip

By Tom Cheshire, Asia correspondent

The British government has previously warned that Hong Kong’s freedoms were being eroded.

By that measure, this was half the cliff-side falling into the sea.

All opposition members of the Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s parliament, have resigned, after the government disqualified four of its members.

A decree came from Beijing and, with it, the effective end of political opposition in Hong Kong, for the first time since handover in 1997.

The Chinese government ruled today that the HK government could dismiss any lawmaker judged not to uphold…



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