11/04/2016, 10.38
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Hong Kong localists oath worries Beijing

by Paul Wang

The National Assembly Central People's Committee will decide  November 7 on the issue of independence oath. Fears for the loss of autonomy of the Court of Hong Kong which was considering the case. Localism growing as a result of the anti-democratic politics and economy.

 

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Beijing will intervene on the case of two young localist parliamentarians, favorable to the Hong Kong independence from China, who used derogatory language during their oath taking. The Hong Kong representative to the National People's Congress (China's parliament) and the Beijing spokesperson  for the interpretations on the Basic Law (constitution of Hong Kong drafted by Britain and China before the transition to the motherland) Maria Tam Wai-chu, made the announcement today

The statement - feared by many in Hong Kong - is likely to overlap with the work of the Hong Kong High Court, which yesterday held a session to assess the severity of the episode of the oath taking and find a way to unlock the work of the Legco (Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s parliament).

The judgment of the Hong Kong court has been requested by the local government to dismiss the two young parliamentarians, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who used a formula speaking of the "sovereignty of Hong Kong ", and offensive words for China while taking their oath and held banners that read "Hong Kong is not China ".

The Legco chairman had initially given his go ahead for the two young men to retake the oath. But two days before the scheduled date, he changed his mind and barred them access to the Legco. The two young men instead demanded to be present as they were legally elected by the people.

In the resulting chaos, the government accused the two young men of having offended the Basic Law and said that they must be expelled from parliament. But according to several lawyers, they can be removed only by the legislature with the voting support of two-thirds of MPs: This would be almost impossible due to the strong presence (almost 50%) of Democrats unfavorable to Beijing.

The court has not yet ruled on the issue. With today's statement by Tam, it is unlikely to rule until at least November 7, when the Central Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing will issue its judgment. The case, however, shows how Beijing intervenes heavy-handedly in Hong Kong’s judicial independence, which should be guaranteed by its Basic Law.

But Beijing is concerned about the growth of localism among young people and their demands for independence from China. This position is primarily driven by political motives, given Beijing’s clamp down on democracy in Hong Kong, but also by economic factors: the heavy presence of China in Hong Kong does not give work to young people of the territory: jobs are taken over by people from mainland China, willing to work for lower wages.

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