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China: We must act to deter Hong Kong separatism

Published 06/11/2016

Newly-elected Hong Kong MPs Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung are surrounded by photographers outside the legislature council (AP)
Newly-elected Hong Kong MPs Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung are surrounded by photographers outside the legislature council (AP)

Beijing must intervene in a Hong Kong political dispute to deter the city's independence advocates , China's top legislative panel has said, calling their actions a threat to national security.

The Standing Committee of China's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, said Beijing could not afford to stand by in the face of challenges to China's authority in the former British territory, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The dispute in Hong Kong centres on a provocative display of anti-China sentiment by pro-independence MPs Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching at their swearing-in ceremony last month.

The legislative panel said their words and actions "posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security".

If such a situation were to persist, the committee said, it would hurt the interests of Hong Kong's residents and the country's progress.

"The central government cannot sit idly and do nothing," it said.

The statement followed discussions by the top legislative panel on issuing an interpretation of an article in Hong Kong's constitution, known as the Basic Law, that covers oaths taken by MPs

Leung and Yau of the radical Youngspiration party altered their oaths to insert a disparaging Japanese term for China.

Displaying a flag reading "Hong Kong is not China", they vowed to defend the "Hong Kong nation". Leung crossed his fingers and Yau used the F-word in her pledge.

Their oaths were ruled invalid but attempts at a makeover have resulted in mayhem in the legislature's weekly sessions.

Saturday's comments indicated the panel intended to use its interpretation of the article to send a strong message against separatism - and could ultimately lead to the democratically elected MPs' disqualification from office.

Such an outcome would be favourable to China's Communist leaders, alarmed by Hong Kong's burgeoning independence movement, but is also likely to plunge their troubled relationship into fresh turmoil.

Maria Tam, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, said in Beijing that the legislative panel had the "final say" on the dispute and that Hong Kong's highest court would accept the panel's interpretation as binding.

AP

Press Association

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