TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Hong Kong government backed Beijing's decision to remove four pro-democracy legislators from the Legislative Council on Saturday (Nov. 14), further amplifying the Chinese central government's powers to undermine the region's autonomy.
The order from China's National People's Congress (NPC) on Nov. 11 clarified that any Hong Kong legislators who support Hong Kong's independence, endanger national security, or fail to recognize China's sovereignty over Hong Kong will immediately lose their seats in the legislature. The NPC also specified that its decision applied to legislators who were denied nomination for re-election this September for the same reasons.
Four opposition lawmakers — Alvin Yeung (楊岳橋), Dennis Kwok (郭榮鏗), Kwok Ka-ki (郭家麒), and Kenneth Leung (梁繼昌) — were disqualified.
This is not the first time the Hong Kong authorities have bypassed the local legislature and sought Beijing's approval for a controversial decision. In August, after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the postponement of the legislative elections in the name of epidemic prevention, she turned to the Chinese central government to decide the tenure for incumbent legislators, which was later extended until the newly elected legislators start their term next year.
Lam is also the one who sought Beijing's authorization to disqualify opposition legislators this time.
"According to simple logic, a person who does not meet the legal requirements to join the legislative election naturally does not meet the requirements to be a legislative councilor," she explained after Beijing issued its order.
After the recent maneuvers by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against Hong Kong's legislative autonomy, multiple countries expressed their condemnation.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that China had once again breached the Sino-British Joint Declaration and broken its promises to maintain Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, while U.S. National Security Advisor Robert C. O'Brien said, "'One Country, Two Systems' is now merely a fig leaf covering for the CCP’s expanding one-party dictatorship in Hong Kong."
In a statement released on Saturday, however, the Hong Kong government asserted that it is a universal practice to require public servants to pledge loyalty to their countries, citing the custom of members of the U.S. Congress vowing to uphold the U.S. Constitution or members of British Parliament swearing allegiance to the Crown.
The Hong Kong authorities accused the foreign politicians of using double standards to interfere in China's internal affairs.
Following Beijing's decision, 15 other pro-democracy candidates announced their resignation in protest, making Hong Kong's Legislative Council a de facto rubber-stamp organ for the CCP.