Five facts about Hong Kong’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Hong Kong has been thrown into po­lit­i­cal tur­moil af­ter Bei­jing barred two demo­crat­i­cally elected law­mak­ers who ad­vo­cate a split from China from tak­ing up their seats. Here are five facts about what is hap­pen­ing in Hong Kong:

Who is an­gry?

Pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers Bag­gio Le­ung and Yau Wai-ching who have been blocked from tak­ing up their seats in the leg­is­la­ture af­ter be­ing elected in city­wide polls in Septem­ber have led protests both in­side and out­side par­lia­ment in fury at be­ing frozen out. They first earned the ire of Bei­jing and the Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties by mis­read­ing their oaths dur­ing their of­fi­cial swear­ing-in, us­ing ex­ple­tives and deroga­tory terms for China. Since then they have been shut out of par­lia­ment pend­ing a ju­di­cial re­view in Hong Kong into whether they should be per­ma­nently dis­qual­i­fied.

Why has China stepped in?

Bei­jing Mon­day gave its own “in­ter­pre­ta­tion” of Hong Kong’s con­sti­tu­tion, the Ba­sic Law, ef­fec­tively bar­ring Bag­gio and Yau from be­ing given a sec­ond chance to take their oaths. Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have said that step­ping in was nec­es­sary to bring Hong Kong back into line and to end the cur­rent chaos in the leg­is­la­ture.

Is this a sig­nif­i­cant move?

Although Bei­jing has pre­vi­ously made in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Hong Kong’s Ba­sic Law, they are rare, and this is the first time that it has pre­empted a de­ci­sion by a Hong Kong court, which is yet to rule on the ju­di­cial re­view into whether or not Bag­gio and Yau should be dis­qual­i­fied.

What will be the ef­fects?

Hong Kong’s le­gal com­mu­nity has said that Bei­jing step­ping in be­fore the ju­di­cial re­view rul­ing is a se­ri­ous blow to the city’s rule of law and to its semi-au­ton­o­mous sta­tus. The pro-democ­racy camp has also ac­cused the Hong Kong ex­ec­u­tive and Bei­jing of rid­ing roughshod over the leg­is­la­ture to stop demo­crat­i­cally elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives tak­ing up their po­si­tions. Protests Sun­day saw self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and pro-in­de­pen­dence sup­port­ers clash with po­lice af­ter thou­sands marched through the streets in protest at Bei­jing weigh­ing in. Bei­jing’s in­ter­ven­tion is also likely to send a chill through Hong Kong’s busi­ness com­mu­nity as the city’s rule of law has been a cor­ner­stone for in­vestor con­fi­dence and en­hanced its po­si­tion as a trust­wor­thy gate­way to China.

What hap­pens next?

There are likely to be fur­ther protests over Bei­jing’s de­ci­sion­lawyers are plan­ning a silent march through Hong Kong to­day. It is also un­likely that the ham­strung leg­is­la­ture will get back to nor­mal op­er­a­tions any time soon if Yau and Bag­gio con­tinue to be barred. Par­lia­men­tary ses­sions have de­scended into chaos for the past four weeks over the oath­tak­ing saga, with six se­cu­rity guards left in­jured by con­fronta­tions Wed­nes­day.—


HONG KONG: Pro-Bei­jing leg­is­la­tor Priscilla Le­ung (cen­ter) ar­rives at a press con­fer­ence in Hong Kong, fol­low­ing a rul­ing by Bei­jing on two elected pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers from the city’s leg­is­la­ture.

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