China’s government has condemned the mass resignation of most of Hong Kong’s opposition as a “farce” and an “open challenge” to its authority.
On Wednesday, 15 opposition members announced their resignation in solidarity with four fellow lawmakers who had been dismissed.
Beijing said the four were deemed a threat to national security.
But many see it as further restricting Hong Kong’s rights, including freedom of speech, which Beijing denies.China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office on Thursday condemned the mass resignation as “an open challenge” against the Chinese government’s authority and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution.
It also said the move showed their “stance of stubborn resistance” against the central government.
“If these lawmakers hope to make use of their resignation to provoke radical opposition and beg for foreign interference, they have miscalculated,” a spokesperson said.
What led to this?
On Wednesday, a resolution passed by Beijing said lawmakers should be disqualified if they support Hong Kong independence, refuse to acknowledge China’s sovereignty, ask foreign forces to interfere in the city’s affairs, or in other ways threaten national security.
Immediately afterwards, Hong Kong dismissed four opposition members of the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo) under the rules of the new resolution.
Later on Wednesday, another 15 pro-democracy lawmakers announced they would resign en masse in solidarity.On Thursday, they were absent from their seats in the LegCo.
The city’s 70-seat legislature has 21 opposition members, usually referred to as non-establishment. Only two of those will now remain in the parliament.
Why were the four dismissed?
City officials say the four lawmakers removed on Wednesday had already been disqualified from running in the next election, originally scheduled for September 2020 but postponed to next year.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam explained that legislators who did “not fulfil the requirement and the prerequisite for serving on the Legislative Council” could not be allowed to continue serving on it.Beijing and Hong Kong officials have not given details on how exactly the four men had contravened the rules.
Two of them, Dennis Kwok and Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, were among the signatories on a joint letter to US senators calling for sanctions on Hong Kong.
Kenneth Leung is accused of indirectly supporting sanctions after attending a press conference on the matter following a trip to the US.
Election officials had previously accused the fourth man, Kwok Ka-ki, of having a “purported intention” to ask foreign powers to sanction Hong Kong, according to local reports.
Wednesday’s resolution to allow the ousting of lawmakers also came amid frustration by the pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong over what they say is opposition filibustering to delay and block legislation.