China ousts pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong
The Chinese Parliament on Wednesday adopted a resolution that pushed out four pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong, prompting more than a dozen of their colleagues to resign en masse.
According to The Associated Press, China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed a directive stating that any lawmaker may be removed from their position if they support Hong Kong’s independence, refuse to recognize China’s authority over the city, threaten national security or call for external intervention in its affairs.
Later in the day, Hong Kong’s government announced the removal of four assembly members who had previously been prohibited from running for reelection after authorities deemed that their allegiance to Hong Kong was not sincere, Reuters reported.
In response, 15 of the remaining lawmakers who support an independent democracy in Hong Kong announced they would resign. The AP reported that the group said in a news conference they would be submitting their official letters of resignation on Thursday.
“Today we will resign from our positions because our partners, our colleagues have been disqualified by the central government’s ruthless move,” Wu Chi-wai, the leader of the pro-democracy camp, told reporters Wednesday. “We can no longer tell the world that we still have ‘one country, two systems.’ This declares its official death.”
During the news conference, the lawmakers reportedly held hands and chanted, “Hong Kong add oil! Together we stand!” According to the AP, the phrase “add oil” is a direct translation of a Chinese expression of encouragement.
“My mission as a legislator to fight for democracy and freedom cannot continue, but I would certainly go along if Hong Kong people continue to fight for the core values of Hong Kong,” one of the disqualified members, Kwok Ka-Ki, told reporters, according to Reuters.
The mass resignation means that Hong Kong’s legislature will only have pro-Beijing lawmakers, which already make up a majority in the government sector. Now, however, the wing will be able to pass bills supported by the Chinese government with little opposition.
Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed chief executive, Carrie Lam, later told reporters that she encourages diverse opinions in the legislature, but supports the enforcement of the new law.
“We could not allow members of a Legislative Council who have been judged in accordance with the law that they could not fulfill the requirement and the prerequisite for serving on the Legislative Council to continue to operate,” she said.
In recent months, the Chinese government has increased its actions against pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, including a national security law in June that has been used to crack down on opposition voices.