Hong Kong disqualifies four pro-democracy legislators

The Canary

Hong Kong has disqualified four pro-democracy legislators. It comes after Beijing passed a resolution that would allow the local government to remove politicians from their positions if they’re deemed a threat to national security.

The disqualification came after meetings of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee on 10 and 11 November.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said the committee passed a resolution to disqualify those who:

  • Support Hong Kong’s independence.
  • Refuse to acknowledge China’s sovereignty over the city.
  • Commit acts that threaten national security.
  • Ask external forces to interfere in the city’s affairs.

Hong Kong China
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy legislators pose before a press conference at the city’s Legislative Council on Monday (Vincent Yu/AP)

“This is clearly in breach of basic law”

The four politicians are Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung. They confirmed that they were disqualified in a news conference. Dennis Kwok said:

In terms of legality and constitutionality, obviously from our point of view this is clearly in breach of basic law and our rights to participate in public affairs, and a failure to observe due process

On Monday 9 November, 19 politicians from the pro-democracy camp said they would resign en masse if Beijing moved to disqualify any pro-democracy legislators.

A mass resignation by the pro-democracy camp would leave Hong Kong’s legislature with only pro-Beijing politicians. The pro-Beijing camp already makes up a majority of the city’s legislature. So a mass resignation would allow the passing of bills favoured by Beijing without opposition.

Hong Kong Lawmakers Disqualified
The disqualified politicians at their Wednesday press conference (Vincent Yu/AP)

Postponed election

Earlier in 2020, the four now-disqualified pro-democracy politicians were barred from running for legislative elections. The elections were originally meant to happen in September before the government stated it would postpone them by a year. This was due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) situation. The four men later remained in their posts following the postponement.

The pro-democracy camp criticised the postponement as an attempt to block them from taking a majority of seats in the legislature. It came after they had held an unofficial pro-democracy primary to decide which candidates to field. 600,000 voters had participated in that process.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam was expected to hold a news conference to address the disqualifications.

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  • Show Comments
    1. This is a rather mealy-mouthed account. Was the author afraid of offending Beijing?

      I do not know enough about Hong Kong politics to understand exactly what is happening and this article leaves all the important stuff unexplained.

      Here’s what I think is going on: Hong Kong had rights guaranteed under international treaty. These rights included a degree of devolved government – in local matters, Hong Kong voters could elect their own regional govt through a democratic process which was generally trusted by the voters. Then Beijing decided unilaterally to change the rules, to reduce Hong Kong independence, end democracy-as-it-was-done-in-HK, and impose a more direct rule. This sparked a backlash from Hong Kong people who made ‘umbrella protests’ and generally fought as best they could using non-violent means to hold on to their democracy. Fast forward. Beijing blocked four pro-democracy candidates from standing for election. Their collegues decided to resign in solidarity. Now the only politicians in the HK legislature are pro-Beijing people. Have I got that basically right?

      My response is (1) I generally support democracy since it generally provides a better life for ‘ordinary people’ against the abuses of the powerful. (2) I would therefore generally support pro-democracy politicians and popular protests in defence of democracy (3) But many groups claim to be ‘democratic’ which I utterly loathe and despise (4) Are the pro-democracy politicians in HK people I’d support if I were a HK voter, or are they more like Trump, Putin, Erdogan and others who use the rhetoric of democracy but live like dictators? (5) Beijing implies these pro-democracy politicians are a ‘threat to the state’ – is this self-serving nonsense or are some of these anti-Beijing activists actually agents provocateurs, CIA stooges etc? I think it unlikely but what is the evidence either way?

      I see an analogy with the UK. Here Johnson (i.e. Gove/Cummings) is determined to reverse devolution and block Scottish independence to save the Union. ‘Saving the Union’ is meaningless mystification – it really means imposing centralised control on a people who have consistently rejected it through repeated ballots. Johnson/London seem to be planning to do to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland what Xi/Beijing are doing to Hong Kong. I support the end of the Union as it has no benefit to the ordinary citizen. If I think of the HK pro-democracy politicians as analogues of the SNP then my sympathy is all with them. This is true even if the SNP is more rightwing on some policy issues than I am myself.

      I come here to learn about stuff. Frustrating that the foreign reporting is not very helpful. Oh well, guess I have to do my own homework.

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