Hong Kong has disqualified four pro-democracy legislators, after Beijing passed a resolution that would allow the local government to remove politicians from their positions if they are deemed a threat to national security.
The disqualification came after meetings of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said the committee passed a resolution to disqualify those who support Hong Kong’s independence or refuse to acknowledge China’s sovereignty over the city, as well as those who commit acts that threaten national security, or ask external forces to interfere in the city’s affairs.
The four politicians – Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung – confirmed that they were disqualified in a news conference.
“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,” Dennis Kwok said.
On Monday, 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, and would allow the passing of bills favoured by Beijing without opposition.
Earlier this year, the four now-disqualified pro-democracy politicians were barred from running for legislative elections originally scheduled for September, prior to the government stating it would postpone the elections by a year due to the coronavirus situation. The four men later remained in their posts following the postponement.
That postponement was criticised by the pro-democracy camp as an attempt to block them from taking a majority of seats in the legislature, after they had held an unofficial pro-democracy primary, in which 600,000 voters participated, to decide which candidates to field.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam was expected to hold a news conference to address the disqualifications.