Hong Kong opposition MPs leave seats amid Beijing’s growing power

By Mar Sánchez-Cascado

Hong Kong, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- Opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong on Thursday officially presented their resignation en masse from the local parliament after the government dismissed four legislators following the approval of a new regulation from China.

“Sooner or later we would all have been disqualified,” Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai told a press conference after announcing the resignations.

The session at the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Thursday was marked by the auspicious absence of pro-democracy lawmakers in the chamber, all 15 MPs stepped down to protest Beijing’s growing control over Hong Kong’s political process.

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

The Standing Committee of China’s congress on Wednesday approved a resolution by which parliamentarians lose their seat if they promote Hong Kong’s independence, support foreign intervention or participate in acts compromising national security.

Following the expulsion of the four parliamentarians, the remaining 15 pro-democracy MPs in the LegCo on Wednesday staged a press conference.

Wu said: “The move will not frustrate us, as we know democracy will not be achieved overnight.

“The road to democracy is especially long when confronting an authoritarian regime. But we will not be defeated by pressure and oppression. We will find a new way.”

The exodus of MPs means that the remaining lawmakers in the 70-seat chamber favor Beijing.

The Chinese government liaison office in Hong Kong condemned the mass resignation, describing it as a “farce” and “an open challenge” to the central Chinese government and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

“Opposition lawmakers have used their public post as a tool of political manipulation,” a statement from the liaison office, the organ that represents the Chinese government in Hong Kong, said.

“They were in fact resisting the central government’s comprehensive jurisdiction over Hong Kong.”

Loyalty to Beijing has become a requirement for lawmakers in the special-status city.

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has defended the measure to disqualify politicians who oppose the Beijing-imposed Hong Kong national security law, which came into effect in June.

Claudia Mo, one of the pro-democracy MPs who resigned said Wednesday that Beijing was “about to ring the death bell of Hong Kong’s democratic struggle.”

“We are leaving this parliament this term. We will not leave the battle of Hong Kong,” she added.

The international community squandered no time in condemning the situation in Hong Kong.

United States national security advisor Robert O’Brien said China had “flagrantly violated its international commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and its promises to the people of Hong Kong.”

In a statement, he added that the US would continue to “identify and sanction those responsible for extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom.”

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