Hong Kong legislators to resign, US threatens extra sanctions | China

Hong Kong’s opposition lawmakers, seen as representing the moderate voices for democracy in the China-ruled area, are expected to formally resign on Thursday in protest at the dismissal of four of their counterparts on “national security” grounds as the US warned of further sanctions .

Her departure will be a severe blow to the political and civil liberties that Hong Kong was granted when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997 after Beijing introduced national security laws on June 30 after mass protests for democracy.

“This is yet another example of the Chinese Communist Party trampling on the remnants of democracy in Hong Kong,” said Chris Patten, the city’s last British governor, in a statement.

“Once again, [President] Xi Jinping’s regime has shown that it is utterly hostile to democratic accountability and those who want to stand up for it. “

The move will mean that the 70-member LegCo will consist almost entirely of pro-Beijing politicians who will allow them to pass China-favored laws without opposition. Beijing loyalists are already guaranteed a majority in the mini-parliament, as only half of the seats are directly elected.

The Chinese parliament passed a resolution on Wednesday allowing the Hong Kong authorities to expel lawmakers who are deemed a threat to national security or who are disloyal to Hong Kong without going to court.

Shortly thereafter, the local government announced the disqualification of four members of the congregation who had previously been banned from re-election because the authorities decided that their declaration of allegiance to Hong Kong was not sincere.

Silence critics

Rights group Amnesty International said the disqualifications were “another example” of Beijing’s attempt to silence dissent.

“Using a framework established in Beijing and implemented by the Hong Kong government, these lawmakers have been banned from the city’s legislature for daring to express views the government agencies do not want to hear,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty regional director for the Asia-Pacific region said in a statement.

“This is a politically motivated attempt to legitimize the repression of opposition legislators. Ultimately, it is a move that increases the deterrent effect on freedom of expression, association and participation in the political process in Hong Kong. “

Carrie Lam, the territory manager, insisted that the disqualifications were not only “reasonable and necessary” but also legal.

Hong Kong’s General Manager Carrie Lam defended the disqualification of pro-democracy lawmakers as legal and “necessary”. [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]“We have doubts about their ability to do their jobs. Of course, if they are unable to comply with the Basic Law and support Hong Kong, then they are not qualified as legislators, ”she said, referring to the city’s mini constitution.

Robert O’Brien, the US national security advisor, said the move showed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had “blatantly violated its international obligations.”

“One country, two systems are now just a fig leaf to the CCP’s growing one-party dictatorship in Hong Kong,” said O’Brien, adding that the US would continue to “identify and sanction those responsible for wiping out Hong Kong’s freedom are responsible “.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the deportations were an attack on Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Germany, the holder of the rotating presidency of the European Union, and Australia have also condemned the move to disqualify pro-democracy politicians.

Expansion of political influence

The disqualifications underscore how Beijing managed to expand its political influence over the city when Hong Kong people took to the streets to demand that China keep the promises it made when it took control of the city in 1997 Territory recaptured from Great Britain.

The Hong Kong government postponed the general election in September by a year, citing the coronavirus pandemic. In the district elections a year ago, after a period when the mass protests that began in June had become increasingly violent, pro-democracy candidates swept the board.

From the left, Dennis Kwok, Kenneth Leung, Kwok and Alvin Yeung were expelled from office on Wednesday for “endangering security” and for not being patriotic [Billy H C Kwok/Bloomberg]Earlier this month, during a legislative meeting in May, police arrested eight other pro-democracy lawmakers for chaotic brawls.

In 2017, a court disqualified four pro-democracy lawmakers, including Nathan Law, for changing the oath of office during their swearing-in ceremony. On Twitter, Law, who applied for political asylum in the UK when the national security legislation was passed, described the new disqualifications as “another obvious example of the CCP’s political repression.” Disgusting.”

In 2016, two independent lawmakers were kicked out of office after pledge allegiance to the “Hong Kong Nation” and were later banned from office by a judge. Shortly before this decision, Beijing rewritten the Basic Law to oblige those who wish to hold public office to “sincerely and solemnly” declare allegiance to China.

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