Hong Kong’s government disqualified four opposition legislators on Wednesday, minutes after the Chinese parliament passed a resolution allowing the city’s executive to expel legislators without having to go through the courts.
Beijing’s resolution says the Hong Kong government can disqualify legislators deemed a threat to national security.
In a statement shortly afterwards, the Hong Kong government announced that Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung “will lose their qualification as legislators immediately”.
The four politicians confirmed their disqualification at a news conference.
“In terms of legality and constitutionality, obviously from our point of view this is clearly in breach of basic law and our rights to participate in public affairs, and a failure to observe due process,” said Kwok.
Hong Kong’s 19 opposition legislators had earlier threatened a mass resignation should any of them be disqualified from the Legislative Council, the former British colony’s mini-parliament.
While Hong Kong’s leader is chosen by pro-Beijing committees, half of its legislature’s 70 seats are directly elected, offering the city’s 7.5 million residents a rare chance to have their voices heard at the ballot box.
But a mass resignation of the pro-democracy camp would leave the legislature with only pro-Beijing politicians, who already make up a majority of the city’s legislature, allowing them to pass bills favoured by Beijing without opposition.
Earlier in the year, the four now-disqualified politicians were barred from running for legislative elections originally scheduled for September, prior to the government stating that it would postpone the elections by a year due to the coronavirus situation.
The four legislators later remained in their posts following the postponement.
The elections postponement was criticised by the pro-democracy camp as an attempt to block them from taking a majority of seats in the legislature, after they had held an unofficial pro-democracy primary participated in by over 600,000 voters to decide which candidates to field. Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, is expected to hold a news conference later on Wednesday to address the disqualifications.