Australia condemns China for ‘seriously undermining’ Hong Kong democracy

Sydney, Australia, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- The Australian government condemned China on Thursday for the dismissal of four Hong Kong opposition parliamentarians a day earlier, saying it undermined the special administrative region’s democracy.

Beijing passed a resolution Wednesday saying parliamentarians should be dismissed 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.

Minutes later, the Hong Kong government revealed the names of the four dismissed lawmakers. This was followed by the defiant resignation of all 15 remaining opposition lawmakers, leaving no dissenting voices in the 70-seat legislature.

“Beijing’s disqualification of duly elected Legislative Council lawmakers seriously undermines Hong Kong’s democratic processes and institutions,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement Thursday.

The move also affects the “high degree of autonomy set out in the Basic Law and Sino-British Joint Declaration,” she added.

“Australia calls on authorities to allow the Legislative Council to fulfill its role as the primary forum for popular political expression in Hong Kong, and to remain a key pillar of the rule of law and the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework,” as agreed as part of the handover of the former British colony to Beijing, Payne said.

“This is critical to maintaining international confidence in Hong Kong,” added the head of Australian diplomacy, stating that Canberra will monitor the situation in the former British colony, especially with respect to human rights, and the principles of freedom, transparency, autonomy and rule of law.

After the firing of the four lawmakers Wednesday, the remaining 15 held a press conference.

“Today we will resign from our posts because our colleagues have been disqualified by the ruthless action of the central government,” said opposition coordinator Wu Chi-wai, adding that the 15 deputies would deliver their resignation letters Thursday.

Those dismissed were parliamentarians of the Civic Party, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok and deputy Kenneth Leung, who had already been vetoed from attending legislative elections before they were postponed until September next year.

The 19 opposition MPs had threatened Monday to withdraw en masse from the local parliament if Beijing removed any of them. EFE-EPA


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