All of Hong Kong’s Opposition politicians have resigned together after China pushed out four of their colleagues, BBC reported on Wednesday. The development came after Beijing passed a resolution allowing the city’s government to dismiss politicians who were considered a threat to national security.
Following the resolution, 15 of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers said they would quit the legislature in solidarity. This is the first time since the region was handed over to China in 1997 that the city’s legislature will have no opposing voice.
“Today, we announce we will resign from our positions as our colleagues are being disqualified by the central government’s ruthless move,” Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said, according to South China Morning Post. “There is separation of powers under the Basic Law, but today, the central government’s decision means separation of powers will be taken away. All the power will be centralised in the chief executive – a puppet of the central government. So today is the end of ‘one country, two systems’.”
The four politicians who were removed from Hong Kong’s legislature after the resolution were Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild, Civic Party’s Kwok Ka-ki, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu and Dennis Kwok.
Under the new move, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council members shall be disqualified once it is determined that they have failed to meet the legal requirements of upholding the region’s Basic Law, and honouring the pledge of allegiance, according to Xinhua. This includes advocating or supporting “Hong Kong independence”, refusal to recognise the state’s sovereignty and it’s exercise of sovereignty over the region, and calling for “interference” by other countries.
Wednesday’s mass resignations will leave the city with only pro-Beijing lawmakers, who are already in the majority. This means they can now pass legislations that China favours without any opposition, according to AP.
Meanwhile, United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the resolution “a further assault on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and freedoms under the UK-China Joint Declaration”, reported BBC.
China’s new law
In June, China’s Parliament had passed the legislation for Hong Kong that would override local laws and give sweeping powers to security agencies. The unprecedented law is aimed at curbing protests – which rocked Hong Kong last year – and prohibiting subversion, separatism, “acts of foreign interference”, and terrorism. These charges are often used in the Chinese mainland to stifle dissidents and political opponents. The new law will also allow China’s security personnel to operate in Hong Kong.
In August, the United States suspended or terminated three bilateral agreements with Hong Kong. This was part of a series of decisions by the United States following China’s imposition of national security law in June.
Various countries have criticised Beijing’s actions. On August 7, the Trump administration had imposed sanctions on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and 10 other senior officials in the territory and mainland China over their alleged roles in curtailing political freedoms and suppressing dissent. New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom have scrapped their extradition treaty with Hong Kong because of China’s law.