Another blow from China against democracy in Hong Kong. All pro-democracy MPs from the former British colony announced their next resignation on Wednesday 11 November. The move follows the ouster of four of them under a measure adopted by Beijing, which would leave parliament almost entirely in the hands of parliamentarians aligned with the Chinese position.
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These resignations are the latest blow to the pro-democracy camp, which has been the subject of relentless attacks since Beijing imposed the national security law at the end of June. Many activists have since been arrested while others have chosen exile. “We (members) of the pro-democracy camp will stand alongside our colleagues who are excluded. We will resign en masse ”said Wu Chi-wai, head of the fifteen pro-democracy lawmakers remaining in the local parliament.
Four pro-democracy Hong Kong MPs were removed from their terms on Wednesday morning after local authorities were allowed by one of China’s major legislative committees to dismiss any lawmaker deemed to pose a threat to national security , without even going before a court.
The move came two days after the threat of some 20 pro-democracy opposition lawmakers to resign “En masse” in the event of exclusion of their colleagues. The Legislative Council (LegCo, the local parliament) has 70 members appointed according to a convoluted system that almost certainly guarantees a majority for the pro-Beijing bloc.
“Constitutional and legal” exclusions according to Carrie Lam
Only 35 are indeed elected by direct universal suffrage, offering a rare opportunity for 7.5 million inhabitants to express their opinion through the ballot box. The other legislators are mainly appointed by socio-professional groups acquired in mainland China.
A resignation “En masse” would leave LegCo almost entirely in the hands of Beijing-aligned MPs. “If respect for procedures, the protection of systems and functions and the fight for democracy and human rights resulted in exclusion, it would be an honor for me”Dennis Kwok, one of the four excluded MPs, told reporters on Wednesday.
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For her part, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam argued that these exclusions are “Constitutional, legal, reasonable and necessary”. The four elected officials were among the twelve candidates for the Hong Kong legislative elections invalidated at the end of July. These elections, which were to take place on September 6, were finally postponed for a year due to coronavirus.