China seen eliminating political dissent in Hong Kong as opposition bloc resigns en masse

by WorldTribune Staff, November 17, 2020

In its intent to crush all opposition, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) last week forced the expulsion of four pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong.

The move prompted the remaining members of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy bloc to resign in protest, Natasha Khan reported for the Wall Street Journal.

Pro-democracy lawmakers join hands at the start of a press conference in a Legislative Council office in Hong Kong. / AFP / Anthony Wallace

Prior to the communist government’s move, the pro-democracy bloc had 19 seats in Hong Kong’s 70-member legislature. By expelling the four lawmakers, the CCP removed all power the pro-democracy bloc had by nullifying its ability to block or veto any legislation.

The four ousted legislators are Alvin Yeung, the leader of the Civic Party, fellow party members Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok, and Kenneth Leung, who represented the accountancy sector.

Half of Hong Kong’s legislature is directly elected by the public, with the other half chosen by industry bodies.

In late June, the regime of Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping imposed a new national security law on Hong Kong which led to the arrests of some high-profile Hong Kong politicians and pro-democracy activists, while others retreated from the public eye or fled abroad.

Hong Kong’s government, which has essentially become a CCP rubber stamp, announced the move minutes after China’s legislature passed a resolution that empowered local officials to unseat dissenting politicians without going through the courts, the Journal report said.

“Today starts a whole new ballgame on how the battle of democracy will be fought in Hong Kong,” said Wu Chi-wai, the convener of the pro-democracy group, who separately confirmed the intention of the other 15 pan-democratic lawmakers to resign. “Sooner or later we would all have been disqualified.”

Since the politicians were elected with the mandate to fight for democratic rights in Hong Kong, the decision to resign was inevitable, Wu said. Beijing’s decree violates the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, he added, and takes away checks and balances on the government.

In expelling the lawmakers, the communist government laid out conditions in which legislators could immediately lose their seats. Those include supporting independence for the territory, endangering national security and refusing to recognize China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong. The legislators must also uphold their allegiance to the city.

“This fundamentally changes the Legislative Council,” said Yeung, one of the disqualified lawmakers. “It’s a blatant humiliation to this legislature that is already run short of legitimacy and respect from the people.”

One of the pro-democracy lawmakers who stepped down in protest, James To Kun-sun, told NPR that “if the whole system doesn’t allow freedom or even allow legislators to speak freely, then what is the meaning of us remaining in the council?”

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