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Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians banned by China as crisis grows

Beijing makes landmark ruling on future of former British colony, barring two pro-democracy parliamentarians from office. Hong Kong is facing a severe political crisis after China barred two pro-independence politicians from the city’s legislature. In a highly controversial move, Beijing said Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung would not be able to hold office, striking […]

Beijing makes landmark ruling on future of former British colony, barring two pro-democracy parliamentarians from office. Hong Kong is facing a severe political crisis after China barred two pro-independence politicians from the city’s legislature.

In a highly controversial move, Beijing said Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung would not be able to hold office, striking a blow to the burgeoning movement calling for greater autonomy from the mainland.

The ruling, which amounts to Beijing’s most direct intervention in the territory’s legal system since the 1997 handover to Chinese rule, is expected to spark renewed street protests in the former British colony.

During a chaotic swearing-in ceremony last month, Yau and Leung thumbed their noses at Beijing by refusing to declare their allegiance to China and carrying blue flags reading: “Hong Kong is not China.”

The pair’s oaths are invalid and they will not be able to retake them, China’s rubberstamp legislature said, one day after thousands marched through the streets of Hong Kong to protest against Beijing’s interference.

Those wishing to hold public office must “sincerely and solemnly” declare allegiance to China, it said.

Legislators must swear allegiance to “the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, according to the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

“Since the legislative council elections, some people have been advocating independence and saying they want to do it in Legco,” Li Fei, the chairman of the Basic Law committee at China’s parliament, said at a press conference announcing the decision. “The interpretation today will help to defend national unity and sovereignty.”

Any calls for “self-determination” amounted to advocating for independence, with both standing at odds with the Basic Law, Li added. He warned allowing independence talk to go unchecked would harm territorial integrity, national security and competitiveness.

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