Hong Kong snatched four pro-democracy lawmakers from their seats on Wednesday, shortly after China gave the city the power to disqualify politicians, which it saw as a threat to national security.
On Monday, 19 pro-democracy lawmakers in the semi-autonomous city’s legislature threatened to resign “en masse” if their allies were disqualified.
The Hong Kong government said the four “would immediately lose their qualifications as lawmakers.”
The statement came after the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress – one of China’s main legislative committees – decided that Hong Kong could convince any lawmaker of a threat to national security without having to go through courts.
The disqualification is the latest setback in the city’s controversial democratic movement, which has continued since China systematically enforces national security laws, including social media posts and arrests of activists fleeing overseas.
It was set up in June for massive and often violent protests at the financial center.
Chinese leaders have described it as a “sword” hanging over the heads of critics.
Denise Kwok, one of the disqualified MPs, told reporters on Wednesday: “If due process is followed, it can be disqualified for protecting the system and actions and fighting for democracy and human rights”. “
The four were initially banned from standing in the semi-autonomous city legislative elections, due to take place on September 6, following the US call for a ban by Hong Kong authorities .
Those elections have been postponed, with officials blaming the coronovirus.
Hong Kong’s legislature passes the region’s laws, but only half of its 70 members are directly elected – and a complex nomination system ensures that the city’s pro-Beijing establishment guarantees a nice majority for all.
Scramble with the pro-democracy minority and protests erupt regularly, often resorting to filming and other tactics to try to block opposing bills.
A massive resignation left lawmakers completely abandoning Beijing’s line.
Hong Kong pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam said the disqualifications were “constitutional, legal, just and necessary”.
Hong Kong’s inability to elect its own leaders and lawmakers is at the heart of opposition to the Beijing regime.
More than 10,000 people have been arrested during anti-democracy protests and the courts are now filled with trials – many involving opposition MPs and prominent activists.
Critics say the law’s widespread provision is a blow to the fickle independence China promised Hong Kong to maintain after British colonial rule ended in 1997.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV employees and posted from a syndicated feed.)