China steps in to bar HK reps from of­fice

> Le­ung says gov­ern­ment will im­ple­ment rul­ing

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

BEI­JING: China’s par­lia­ment passed a rul­ing yes­ter­day that ef­fec­tively bars two Hong Kong pro-in­de­pen­dence politi­cians from tak­ing of­fice, Bei­jing’s most di­rect in­ter­ven­tion in the ter­ri­tory’s le­gal and po­lit­i­cal sys­tem since the 1997 han­dover.

The Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress (NPC) in Bei­jing ruled that law­mak­ers must swear al­le­giance to Hong Kong as part of China and that can­di­dates would be dis­qual­i­fied if they changed the word­ing of their oath of of­fice or if they failed to take it in a sin­cere and solemn man­ner.

The prospect of the rul­ing had sparked protests in the for­mer Bri­tish colony on Sun­day.

For­eign diplo­mats were watch­ing closely, stress­ing the im­por­tance of the rule of law to the city’s in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion.

While the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion ef­fec­tively bars the two pro-in­de­pen­dence Hong Kong politi­cians from be­ing sworn in, a court in the Chi­nese-ruled city must still rule on the case, tak­ing Bei­jing’s de­ci­sion into con­sid­er­a­tion.

The pro­mo­tion of in­de­pen­dence has long been taboo in Hong Kong, gov­erned un­der a “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple since 1997, amid fears in Bei­jing it could spread among other ac­tivists and chal­lenge the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s rule.

“The na­ture of Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence is to split the coun­try. It se­ri­ously vi­o­lates the ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’ pol­icy,” said Li Fei, chair­man of the par­lia­ment’s Ba­sic Law Com­mit­tee.

“The cen­tral gov­ern­ment is highly con­cerned about the grave dan­gers the Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence forces bring to the coun­try and to Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong leader Le­ung Chun-ying said the city’s gov­ern­ment would fully im­ple­ment China’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the mini-con­sti­tu­tion, although it was not im­me­di­ately clear if that meant the proin­de­pen­dence pair were al­ready dis­qual­i­fied from of­fice.

The move came after pro-in­de­pen­dence politi­cians Yau Wai-ching, 25, and Bag­gio Le­ung, 30, pledged al­le­giance to the “Hong Kong na­tion” and dis­played a ban­ner declar­ing “Hong Kong is not China” dur­ing a swear­ing-in cer­e­mony for the city’s leg­isla­tive coun­cil in Oc­to­ber.

Si­mon Young, a pro­fes­sor at Hong Kong Univer­sity’s law school, said he was still eval­u­at­ing the rul­ing but it did seem to bar Le­ung and Yau from tak­ing of­fice.

“I do worry we are only go­ing to see more in­ter­pre­ta­tions, and at­tempts by the NPC to flesh out lo­cal laws, if they re­ally want to stop the sep­a­ratists,” Young told Reuters.

Lead­ing mem­bers of China’s par­lia­ment said on Satur­day the pro-in­de­pen­dence pair had dam­aged the ter­ri­tory’s rule of law and posed a grave threat to China’s sovereignty and se­cu­rity. – Reuters

Demon­stra­tors are pep­per sprayed by po­lice dur­ing a protest against what they call Bei­jing's in­ter­fer­ence over lo­cal pol­i­tics and the rule of law on Sun­day.

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