China ousted four Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers who allegedly endanger national security and promote the city’s independence after passing a resolution that requires lawmakers to be “patriots” as Beijing further cracked down on the city’s independence.
On Wednesday, China’s top legislative body passed a resolution making “patriotism” a legal requirement for Hong Kong lawmakers, state media Xinhua News Agency reported. The city government may disqualify any candidate without going through courts.
Immediately after the resolution was passed, the Hong Kong government announced the disqualification of Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung from the Legislative Committee, the city’s mini parliament. The four were previously barred from running in the postponed September polls.
They quietly walked out of the chamber and spoke with the media.
"Today, One Country, Two Systems no longer exists. Anyone who made this decision has to answer to history and every one of the Hong Kong people," Kwok Ka-ki said in a press conference.
Anticipating the passage of the resolution, 19 opposition lawmakers on Monday threatened to collectively resign should any of their members be disqualified.
The decision was heavily criticized on Hong Kong social media.
Dennis Kwok said it would be an honor for him to be disqualified for “fighting for democracy and human rights.”
"Obviously from our point of view, this is clearly in breach of the Basic Law and our right to participate in public affairs and also a failure to observe due process. I think that much is clear," he said.
Beijing has been cracking down on Hong Kong’s freedoms following massive pro-democracy protests last year. It has since introduced the feared national security law that targets pro-democracy activists and lawmakers.
Under the vague law, offenders may be given the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Rights groups said the law was abused since day one and a number of people have been arrested.