China moves to bar Hong Kong activists as fears grow over intervention


Pro-independence legislator-elects Baggio Leung (C) and Yau Wai-ching (R) during a confrontation with the police as they protest against what they call Beijing's interference over local politics and the rule of law, before China's parliament is expected to announce their interpretation of the Basic Law in light of two pro-independence lawmakers' oath-taking controversy, in Hong Kong, China November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Pro-independence legislator-elects Baggio Leung (C) and Yau Wai-ching (R) during a confrontation with the police as they protest against what they call Beijing’s interference over local politics and the rule of law, before China’s parliament is expected to announce their interpretation of the Basic Law in light of two pro-independence lawmakers’ oath-taking controversy, in Hong Kong, China November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Demonstrators are pepper sprayed by police during a protest against what they call Beijing's interference over local politics and the rule of law, a day before China's parliament is expected to announce their interpretation of the Basic Law in light of two pro-independence lawmakers' oath-taking controversy, in Hong Kong, China, November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Demonstrators are pepper sprayed by police during a protest against what they call Beijing’s interference over local politics and the rule of law, a day before China’s parliament is expected to announce their interpretation of the Basic Law in light of two pro-independence lawmakers’ oath-taking controversy, in Hong Kong, China, November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Demonstrators try to protect themselves from being pepper-sprayed during a protest against what they call Beijing's interference over local politics and the rule of law, a day before China's parliament is expected to announce their interpretation of the Basic Law in light of two pro-independence lawmakers' oath-taking controversy, in Hong Kong, China November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Demonstrators try to protect themselves from being pepper-sprayed during a protest against what they call Beijing’s interference over local politics and the rule of law, a day before China’s parliament is expected to announce their interpretation of the Basic Law in light of two pro-independence lawmakers’ oath-taking controversy, in Hong Kong, China November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

China’s parliament passed a ruling on Monday that effectively bars two elected 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 rare move by Beijing came after 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.

The National People’s Congress 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 sparked protests in the former British colony on Sunday and it is now on high alert for any repeat of the weekend clashes. Members of the city’s legal profession are planning a rare silent march on Tuesday night amid pressure for them to take even stronger action.

Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that gives the territory wide-ranging autonomy, including judicial freedom guided by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law.

The protests on Sunday night were reminiscent of pro-democracy protests in late 2014 that paralyzed parts of the Asian financial center and posed one of the greatest political challenges to the central government in Beijing in decades.

“This incident shows us the Basic Law is a handicapped legal document and the so-called mini-constitution can be amended and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party at will,” said Joshua Wong, 20, one of the leaders of the 2014 protests.

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

Britain said it was concerned.

“We urge the Chinese and Hong Kong (special administrative region) governments, and all elected politicians in Hong Kong to refrain from any actions that fuel concerns or undermine confidence in the one country, two systems principle,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

While the decision effectively bars the two Hong Kong politicians from being sworn in, a court in the city must still rule on the case in a judicial review, taking Beijing’s decision into consideration.

The promotion of independence has long been taboo in Hong Kong amid fears in Beijing it could spread among other activists and challenge the central government’s rule.

“GRAVE DANGERS”

“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, who has governed during some of the city’s most violent and divisive times in decades, said his government would fully implement China’s interpretation of the mini-constitution.

But Legislative Council president Andrew Leung said the Hong Kong judicial review needed to be completed before confirming if the pair were disqualified.

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, referring to China’s parliament.

Darragh Paradiso, a spokesperson for the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau, said by phone the United States strongly valued Hong Kong’s independent judiciary.

“It is unfortunate that this particular situation was not resolved within Hong Kong’s Legislative Council or within its well-respected courts,” she said.

The Basic Law grants China’s NPC a power of interpretation above Hong Kong’s highest court. While it has made four other rulings since 1997, this ruling is its first move to preempt an ongoing Hong Kong court case.

Hong Kong Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen said he still believed the oath-taking controversy could be resolved locally, but he also had every confidence that the city’s judiciary would uphold the rule of law.

Beijing’s decision represents some of the worst privately held fears of senior judges and some government officials in Hong Kong, according to sources close to them.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing he hoped the international community would see the decision reflected the will of the Chinese people.

James To, a lawmaker with the Democratic Party, said the central government had undermined Hong Kong’s judicial process.

“In future, people’s confidence in one country, two systems will worsen,” To said.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Sue-Lin Wong in BEIJING, Greg Torode, Venus Wu and Donny Kwok and James Pomfret in HONG KONG; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Paul Tait and Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “China moves to bar Hong Kong activists as fears grow over intervention”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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7 Comments on “China moves to bar Hong Kong activists as fears grow over intervention”

  1. Chinese Hongkonger says:

    If Yau Wai Ching and Baggio Leung disagrees with a Chinese Hong Kong, they should either be put in jail or asked to go into voluntary exile. It’s a shame they were rejected by U.K when the lease on Hong Kong expired. Hongkongnese were NOT good enough to be British citizens. How’s that for aberrated Hongkies who thinks they are better than Mainland Chinese? If anything, Baggio and Wai Ching should take up their case with London instead of Beijing. Go there if you think you are that good. Who gave you the right to think you can demand breakaway of Hongkong from China? Are you nuts? All along Hong Kong was Chinese’s. And they are Chinese. Anyway, unless Baggio and Wai Ching can muster up an army and and take control of HK, perhaps they should thank Beijing for the leniency shown so far. Many others would have just thrown them in jail for treason. Please apply for assylum at the British or American Embassy.

    Like

  2. johnleecan says:

    Under British colony, Hong Kong people gladly accepted being second class citizens to the wild white west. They were not allowed to vote and many restrictions were in place. Yet they discriminate other Asians and treat them badly.

    Mr. SIMON below summarized it perfectly. I couldn’t have said it better.

    Like

  3. Fre Okin says:

    The Pro-independence legislator-elects Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching and their supporters should learn how to operate within the rules of democracy. These people are backward third world mentality, unfit to call themselves as fighting for freedom.

    They are no different from the Sunflower Movement people who disrupted the Legislative Yuan with their illegal sit in a couple of years back. These disgusting Third World Democracies should be ashamed of themselves. NOWHERE in the civilized Western world democracies do we find legislators acting in such an uncivilized manner, even using a swear word while taking the Oath of Office. This Instantly Disqualify these two members from participating in the legislative process.

    The legislature is an institution where decorum civil behavior is required. They can fight from within once they take their oath civilly but they forfeit their rights from their uncouth behavior. Hong Kong people should be ashamed of these two uneducated representatives. They don’t understand the Rules of Engagement. Democracy have rules and they must follow them or the whole system will collapse.

    The Focus should be on their infraction of the democratic process, not what China did forfeiting their rights to represent their constituencies.

    If Hong Kong people understand democracy, they should condemn these two disgusting newbies instead of focusing on what China do to ban them from further participation in the legislature.

    The next few days will show whether HK is a mature society or filled with blind ignorant people.

    Like

    • Steve says:

      Agree – bluntly speaking they are bastards and bitches, no self respect and respect for people and country. China has being confronted with overwhelming external and internal challenges and yet enduring patiently with its economic and political reform. All reformations can only be achieved working alongside the central government for the benefit of nation and people. These HK youngsters are greedy and delusional. 50 years of One Country with Two Systems is too long. It can only get worse. Something has to be done to reduce the duration.

      Like

  4. Simon says:

    “Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that gives the territory wide-ranging autonomy, including judicial freedom guided by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law.”

    WRONG!

    This is has often been misinterpreted by western media. Raal reason Britain returned HK to China because its 99 year rule ended. The “One Country Two Systems” was a policy laid down by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping a s a sweetener to HK guaranteed for 50yrs as long as HK remains stable. It can be taken away at any time if chaos descended in HK that threatens national security. China largely abide by the Basic Law but some HK citizens broke it by advocating indpendent and seriously undermined Chinese rule and HK law that was agreed. Therefore it is right for China to intervene and reinstate what the law is.

    Like

    • Steve says:

      As a sweetener, 50 years too long, equal to 5 new Chinese Presidents plus 2 or 3 recessions. Imagine another 30 years more of turmoil.

      Like

    • Jane says:

      The Hong Kong Basic Law derives its power from the Chinese Constitution. Everything in the Constitution applies to Hong Kong, except for anything explicitly suspended by the Basic Law.

      Article 52 of the Constitution says: “It is the duty of citizens of the People’s Republic of China to safeguard the unification of the country and the unity of all its nationalities.” Nothing in the Basic Law cancels out this provision, so Article 52 also applies to Hong Kong.

      It really is that simple. All of this talk about “judicial freedom” is an attempt to confuse the issue. The Chinese government has not arrested any judges. It has not even imposed any changes on Hong Kong. Article 52 *already* applied to Hong Kong. The ruling simply clarified the manner of taking oaths.

      The British government does the same thing. IRA members elected from Northern Ireland are not allowed to pledge allegiance to “the Irish nation” or yell expletives against Britain. They must swear loyalty to the Queen. Since they refuse to do so, they are not allowed to take their seats in the British Parliament.

      Like


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