Hong Kong disqualifies 4 pro-democracy lawmakers after China ruling

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Four pro-democracy opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong have been disqualified with immediate effect.

The expulsion came immediately after Beijing passed a resolution disqualifying lawmakers who had supported the city’s independence.

The move is seen as China’s latest attempt to curtail Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Other pro-democracy lawmakers are expected to step down in protest.

What does the resolution say?

The new resolution of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China says that the legislature should be disqualified if it supports Hong Kong’s independence, refuses to recognize China’s sovereignty, requests foreign forces to interfere in the city’s affairs, or otherwise nationally Jeopardizing security.

It also allows the Hong Kong government to directly remove the legislature without going to the courts.

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It comes after China introduced a controversial and far-reaching national security law in Hong Kong in late June that criminalizes “secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces.”

The law was introduced after years of waves of pro-democracy and anti-Beijing protests. It has already resulted in multiple arrests of activists and largely silenced demonstrators.

Who was disqualified?

The four non-seated lawmakers are Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party, and Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild.

“If due process, the protection of systems and functions and the fight for democracy and human rights led to the consequences of a disqualification, I would be honored,” Dennis Kwok told reporters shortly after the news.

You were among 12 legislators previously banned from voting in parliamentary elections before the elections were postponed until next year.

The group had urged US officials to sanction those responsible for alleged human rights violations in Hong Kong.

The city’s pro-democracy legislators have 19 seats in the 70-seat legislature.

What are the reasons for their removal?

Speaking to the media, Hong Kong’s chief officer Carrie Lam said the four disqualified councilors had already failed to qualify for next year’s elections, which have now been postponed.

She added that although she “welcomes different opinions in the Legislative Council”, they need to be expressed “in a responsible manner”.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionOther pro-democracy lawmakers have threatened to step down on the matter

All members must be in compliance with the territory’s mini-constitution, constitution, and other local laws, including the new national security law, she said.

“We could not allow members of the Legislative Council who were judged not to qualify for service on the Legislative Council to continue serving there.”

It also denied concerns that a mass resignation of the remaining pro-democracy lawmakers would turn the Legislative Council into a “stamping body”.

What is the background for this?

Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997 when it came back under Chinese control.

Following the principle of “one country, two systems”, the area should retain more rights and freedoms than the mainland until 2047.

As a Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong should have its own legal system, multiple political parties and rights including freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

In response to the Security Act, which was passed in response to months of protests against democracy, the UK has offered a route to British citizenship for residents who still hold a British National Overseas (BNO) passport.

Around 300,000 people currently hold BNO passports, while an estimated 2.9 million people born prior to handover are eligible.

China harshly criticized the UK last month, calling on London “to correct its mistakes immediately”.

Media signatureThe Story Behind Hong Kong’s Identity Crisis and Protests – first aired November 2019

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