Four pro-democracy lawmakers were forced out of Hong Kong’s legislature this week just minutes after China announced a new law that allows local officials to unseat dissenting politicians without court approval.
The remaining 15 pro-democracy lawmakers resigned from the bloc in protest.
“Today starts a whole new ballgame on how the battle of democracy will be fought in Hong Kong,” says opposition lawmaker Wu Chi-wai. “Sooner or later we would all have been disqualified.”
The United Kingdom, United States, and Australia immediately denounced the law as a violation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution (AKA Basic Law).
“China has once again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. The UK will stand up for the people of Hong Kong, and call out violations of their rights and freedoms,” said British foreign minister Dominic Raab. “With our international partners, we will hold China to the obligations it freely assumed under international law.” British officials say they are considering sanctions.
With all opposition lawmakers removed, Hong Kong’s legislature will become a rubber stamp not unlike Beijing’s National People’s Congress.
“This is an actual act by Beijing…to sound the death knell of Hong Kong’s democracy fight because they would think that, from now on, anyone they found to be politically incorrect or unpatriotic or are simply not likable to look at, they could just oust you using any means,” argues lawmaker Claudia Mo.
China’s new law calls for the immediate removal of any lawmaker that expresses support for Hong Kong’s independence, fails to recognize China’s sovereignty over the city, threatens national security, or encourages external forces to intervene in the city’s affairs.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam welcomed the new law, saying that the legislature should be comprised of ‘patriots.’
Beijing’s latest attack on Hong Kong represents a continuation of a brutal and illegal takeover that intensified in June with the approval of a national security law that led to the arrests of many high-profile politicians and activists in Hong Kong. The national security law was imposed after months of anti-government protests in which the right to democratically elect the city’s Chief Executive and lawmakers was a key demand. China has also utilized the law to silence dissent in the media, in schools, and online.
While the US is fighting over election results and the pandemic, one of the greatest financial hubs in the world is falling under totalitarian control. When Hong Kong was returned to China from British colonial rule in 1997, China promised to leave the city’s legal and economic systems intact until 2047. As we know, China is not interested in treaties that do not work in its favor. And no power in the world will risk Chinese invasion by stepping up to defend Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Opposition Resigns From Legislature Over Latest Beijing Crackdown
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers to resign en masse