China warns new lawmakers not to back independence
BEIJING has warned new Hong Kong lawmakers not to back independence for the semi-autonomous city after young anti-China activists won seats for the first time in key weekend elections.
The September 4 vote saw young activists pushing for more autonomy from Beijing secure a crucial foothold in the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo), as fears grow that China is tightening its grip.
It was the first major poll since prodemocracy rallies in 2014 failed to win concessions on political reform from Beijing.
Some student protest leaders were among those winning seats in the landmark vote. Five candidates advocating independence or self-determination for Hong Kong are to sit in the 70-seat assembly.
In a statement, China said that it would not tolerate any talk of independence “inside or outside” the legislature.
“We firmly oppose any activity relating to Hong Kong independence in any form, inside or outside the Legislative Council, and firmly support the Hong Kong government to impose punishment in accordance with the law,” state news agency Xinhua cited a spokesperson of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council as saying.
It said some candidates had used the election as a platform to “openly promote” independence, adding that went against China’s constitution, as well as Hong Kong’s own mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law.
“This is against the fundamental interests of all Hong Kong residents,” said the statement, which was posted on the website of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
Anti-establishment parties increased their share of the legislature, taking 30 of 70 seats.
However is almost impossible for them to take a majority as 30 seats are appointed by special-interest groups that tend to be pro-Beijing. –