Latest Beijing Resolution Cracks Down On Hong Kong Legislators

Nov 11, 2020
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NOEL KING, HOST:

After today, Hong Kong's legislature will no longer have any pro-democracy members. China expelled four of them today, saying they oppose Beijing's governance. And then all of the rest of the opposition members announced they would quit. NPR's Emily Feng has the story.

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: The new resolution effectively gives Beijing veto power over who sits in Hong Kong's legislature. And it explicitly pointed to four opposition lawmakers who were already barred from reelection. Though, Beijing has also suspended legislative elections, citing the coronavirus. Dennis Kwok, a legislator with the pro-democracy Civic Party, was one of those disqualified from his position today.

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DENNIS KWOK: If observing due process, protecting systems and functions and fighting for democracy and human rights would lead to the consequences of being disqualified, it would be my honor. And I say the same today.

FENG: Beijing accuses these four lawmakers of being secessionist, as in advocating Hong Kong independence and endangering China's national security. The lawmakers say they are simply protecting Hong Kong's civil liberties, including the Basic Law, the region's mini-constitution.

SAMUEL CHU: They are bypassing the election. They're now bypassing the courts. (Laughter) And they bypassed already the Basic Law when they implemented the national security law.

FENG: This is Samuel Chu, a leader of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, an activist organization based in Washington. He says that after Beijing passed a national security measure this summer outlawing most dissent, Hong Kong's institutions have been slowly neutered.

CHU: In some way, this is like the march to the end here.

FENG: The timing of Beijing's resolution is also curious. It comes right after a U.S. election. And though long expected, the unseating of these four Hong Kong lawmakers seems to test just how far Beijing can go before a new U.S. president is inaugurated. Emily Feng, NPR News, Beijing.

(SOUNDBITE OF FREDDIE JOACHIM'S "RAIN FALL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.