Posts Tagged ‘Leung Chun-ying’

Hong Kong: Pan-democrats could be the “kingmakers” in a tight political race

February 17, 2017

By Joyce Lim
Hong Kong Correspondent
The Straits Times

Holding over 25% of the votes, they aim to stop Beijing’s preferred candidate Carrie Lam

On March 26, Hong Kong’s next leader will be voted in by an Election Committee of 1,194 members. That only so few have a say reflects the failure of the 2014 Occupy Protests, where protesters demanded “one man, one vote” in choosing the chief executive.

But the experience has galvanised the pan-democratic, or pro-democracy camp, to be more pragmatic. Previously, they would cast blank votes to show that they do not support pro-establishment contenders. This time, they hold 326 votes – which is more than a quarter of the votes in the Election Committee – and are determined to make them count.

With the election featuring three pro-establishment figures – Mrs Carrie Lam, Mr John Tsang and Ms Regina Ip – for the first time, the pan-democrats could be the “kingmakers” in a tight race.

Former security chief Ip, 66, who won the most votes for a female lawmaker in last September’s Legislative Council Election, was the first among the three to announce her candidacy, followed by Mr Tsang, 65, a former finance chief, and Mrs Lam, 59, a former chief secretary. Others include retired judge Woo Kwok Hing, 70, and radical pan-democrat Leung Kwok Hung, 60.

To become the next chief executive, at least 601 votes are needed. To qualify, each contender needs at least 150 nominations from the Election Committee made up of mostly pro-Beijing property tycoons, lawmakers as well as representatives of professional bodies and trade associations.

That’s the challenge for all but Mrs Lam, who has been endorsed by Beijing. She has reportedly secured 300 to 400 nominations while Mr Tsang has 24 nominations from pan-democrats.

Mr Tsang, who is leading in popularity polls, is seen as the strongest contender to Mrs Lam.

Some see Beijing’s move to name its preferred candidate as its bid to control the election, said Professor Lau Siu Kai, vice-chairman of the Beijing-backed Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies. And it is the pan-democrats’ aim to stop Beijing’s choice candidate from becoming the next chief executive.

“If John Tsang and Woo Kwok Hing are able to join the race, there may be unexpected results,” said Prof Lau, referring to the duo deemed acceptable by the pan-democrats. That is because the next leader would be picked by a secret ballot system, which could see Mrs Lam’s supporters switching sides.

Still, if Beijing had not declared its preferred candidate, it is unlikely that any contender would be able to win enough votes.

Last week, radical lawmaker Leung, better known as “Long Hair”, declared his intention to run and urged pan-democrats not to vote for the other four contenders who “do not represent (the) pro-democracy camp”.

But lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who is coordinating votes from the pan-democrats, told reporters the bloc is considering voting for Mr Tsang, Mr Woo and a third nominee picked from a mock online poll.

With nomination closing on March 1, pan-democrats should decide by next week, he said.

Critics have said Mr Leung’s intention to run has further split the pan-democratic camp already faced with the dilemma of whether to support Mr Tsang. Some worry about the possible backlash from endorsing someone who wants to enact the unpopular national security law.

But with Mr Tsang having a huge lead in popularity polls, even if he turns out to be like incumbent Leung Chun Ying, whose policies are unpopular with Hong Kongers, the pan-democrats could say that the candidate they have endorsed was the people’s choice.

Unsolved problems hang over Hong Kong leader’s last policy address as mainland interference seen as threatening the city’s autonomy

January 18, 2017


Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying sits behind security guards before his policy address at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
By James Pomfret and Donny Kwok | HONG KONG

Hong Kong’s leader on Wednesday delivered his last annual policy statement before stepping down, addressing longstanding problems including high property prices and stalled political reform though providing no substantial new measures to tackle them.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took office in 2012 pledging to make housing more affordable, and to bring greater democracy to the city of 7.2 million, issues that had also stymied his predecessors.

Home prices have bucked repeated cooling measures, including a hefty new sales tax in November, to rise ever higher, putting prices on a par with those in New York and London.

Political reforms have stalled amid growing worries among democracy activists about mainland interference that they see threatening the city’s autonomy.

Demands for fully democratic city elections triggered Hong Kong’s most tumultuous protests for decades in late 2014 but Beijing refused to make any concessions.

Leung said surging property prices posed the “gravest potential hazard” to society and he reiterated a need to increase the supply of land, including through reclamation and expanding new towns.

“If the government and the community do not resolve to expedite the identification of land for housing production, the housing problem will remain a tough nut to crack,” Leung said.

Only seven percent of city land is zoned for housing and the average price per square foot of city flats is about HK$10,700 ($1,380), spawning a boom in ever smaller “mini” flats no bigger than a car parking space. [L4N1F81CQ]

In the next decade, 460,000 housing units are expected to be built, he said.


Politically, Leung has been divisive. He is viewed by many democracy activists as close to the Beijing leadership.

He stressed in his address that the city remains an inalienable part of the mainland.

“There is no room for independence or any kind of separation,” he said.

“It is the obligation of each and every Hong Kong citizen to safeguard our country’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.”

His administration used teargas against protesters during the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution” that blocked major roads in Hong Kong for 79 days.

Leung’s push to ban lawmakers advocating self-determination or independence triggered a highly contentious “interpretation” of Hong Kong’s mini constitution by China’s parliament last year, raising questions about the independence of the city’s judiciary.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” arrangement granting the city a high degree of autonomy, but worries about creeping Beijing control over the city have arisen in recent years.

Before he spoke on Wednesday, a small group of protesters threw fake money at Leung, calling him a “liar” for not keeping policy promises, while a pro-democracy lawmaker held up a effigy of Leung resembling a monkey.

Leung said recurrent expenditure on social welfare would increase to HK$66.2 billion ($8.5 billion), a nearly 55 percent rise compared with four years ago. Allowances for about half a million elderly would be increased by almost a third.

He said the government would also “progressively abolish” a controversial provision concerning retirement funds that has allowed companies to offset severance and long-service payouts by dipping into individual mandatory provident funds.

Business lobby groups fiercely oppose the government’s decision to abolish the provision.

($1 = 7.7559 Hong Kong dollars)

(Additional reporting by Twinnie Siu, Donny Kwok and Anne-marie Roantree; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel)


Hong Kong’s outgoing leader has issued a warning in his farewell policy speech to those advocating independence for the Chinese-controlled territory.

In his annual address to the legislature, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Wednesday that Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China.

He said, “There is absolutely no room for independence or any form of separation.”

The latter part of Leung’s five-year term has been marked by growing separatist sentiment following massive 2014 pro-democracy protests that failed to sway the government’s position on restricting electoral reform.

Last year, Leung’s government took a tough stance against two newly elected lawmakers, taking legal action to disqualify them after they used their swearing-in ceremonies to mount apparent protests against China and express pro-independence views.


Image may contain: 7 people, people standing

Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung

Hong Kong finance chief John Tsang resigns — Expected to run for Chief Executive

December 12, 2016


HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s finance chief resigned Monday (Dec 12) ahead of what is widely expected to be a tilt at the city leadership.

John Tsang – nicknamed “Mr Pringles” by local media for his resemblance to the crisp brand’s mascot – is seen as a more moderate alternative to current leader Leung Chun-ying, who said Friday he would step down in July.

The city has become sharply divided under Leung, whose term has been marked by anti-Beijing protests. Opponents cast him as a puppet of the Chinese government squeezing the semi-autonomous city’s freedoms.

Tsang confirmed to reporters Monday evening that he had resigned after more than nine years, but stopped short of announcing he would run for the leadership.

“I shall think through this in the coming days and make an announcement,” he said.

He used the opportunity to thank the Chinese government for their “support and encouragement” as well as the people of Hong Kong.

Tsang recapped how he had witnessed the city returned to “our motherland” – referring to the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997.

He also said that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy had been “successfully implemented”.

The finance secretary’s resignation is being seen as a signal that he will stand in the leadership elections in March. Candidates are not allowed to hold a government office if they want to stand for chief executive.


Although Tsang has a better public image than Leung, he is still an establishment figure.

Pro-democracy campaigners have warned the next city leader will simply be another Beijing yes-man as the vote system is skewed.

The chief executive is chosen by an electoral committee made up of representatives of special interest groups, weighted towards Beijing.

Mass rallies in 2014 called for fully free leadership elections, but failed to win concessions on reform.

Special interest groups voted for members of the election committee on Sunday – of almost 1,200 only around a quarter come from the pro-democracy camp.

Speculation that Tsang would run for office intensified last year after China’s President Xi Jinping shook his hand during a meeting in Beijing.

There was another handshake between the two in September at the G20 in Hangzhou.

Former security minister and current senior lawmaker Regina Ip is also expected to announce her candidacy this week.

Ip is hated by the pro-democracy camp for supporting controversial anti-subversion law Article 23 when she was minister in 2003. It was dropped after hundreds of thousands of residents protested.

However, she has a strong support group in the establishment camp – in recent legislative elections Ip was one of the most popular candidates receiving 60,000 votes.

Current government number two Carrie Lam has also said she will consider running.

Only one candidate has declared they are running for the leadership so far – retired judge Woo Kwok-hing who has said he wants to help Hong Kong overcome its divisions.

Analysts say Tsang would stand the best chance.

“John Tsang is accepted by many pan-democratic supporters and the business circle in the pro-establishment camp,” said Edmund Cheng, professor of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Cheng added that Tsang had outranked all other potential candidates in opinion polls.

Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations fade as new campaigns for “elections” (managed by Beijing) begin

December 12, 2016

The Wall Street Journal


Leung Chun-ying surprised Hong Kong Friday by announcing that he won’t seek reappointment next year as Chief Executive. But the unpopular leader’s departure doesn’t mean Beijing has reassessed its hard-line approach to the city’s democratic aspirations.

In office since 2012, Mr. Leung has helped China’s central government erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and liberal institutions via systematic attacks on academic freedom, the free press and judicial independence. He faced down the mass pro-democracy protests of 2014 in uncompromising fashion, insisting without evidence that the demonstrations were a foreign plot to subvert China. This earned praise from Chinese supremo Xi Jinping and further radicalized Hong Kong politics.

The election of two pro-independence candidates to the local legislature in September triggered the latest crackdown. First local prosecutors sued to keep the two lawmakers from taking their seats because they had inserted derogatory and separatist language into their oaths of office. Then Beijing bigfooted Hong Kong’s courts and disqualified the duo on its own dubious authority.

Now Mr. Leung’s government is trying to use the same irregular-oath pretext to oust four more opposition lawmakers. They and fellow democrats say the government is mounting a “coup” against them and “declaring war on voters.”

Unless the authorities drop their escalating assault on the opposition, there is no reason to believe Beijing has softened its approach on Hong Kong. Mr. Leung’s successor could work to save a once-great city, but only if Beijing starts to see the wisdom of compromise.



Globe editorial: How Hong Kong can push China for more democracy

Christopher Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, was not a democratically elected leader. But he and the British government he represented negotiated a deal with Beijing that left Hong Kong with a semi-democratic legislature, under an arrangement known as One Country, Two Systems.

Twenty years later, Lord Patten is offering sound advice to Hong Kong’s understandably frustrated democratic activists: Keep demanding more democracy – but steer clear of calling for independence from China. The communist regime in Beijing can make concessions on the former. It cannot yield on the latter.

Two young politicians elected to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong who favour independence, and who have so far not been allowed to take their seats, were present at a seminar Lord Patten took part in last month. He spoke to them sharply, in effect saying that they should drop the independence idea, and concentrate on achieving greater democracy.

For example, many of the seats in the Hong Kong legislature are elected not by voters under rep-by-pop, but by “functional constituencies.” Their voters are small numbers of business people and lobby groups. These rotten boroughs ensure that the legislature does not fully represent the wishes of Hong Kong’s people.

Turning Hong Kong into another independent Singapore might be a wonderful thing, but Beijing won’t tolerate such a move. And most residents of Hong Kong likely do not favour pure independence. Yet a number of Hong Kong’s loudest pro-democracy activists have recently been pursuing that line.

Further raising the temperature in the debate, a judge of the high court in Hong Kong recently ruled that anyone who advocates independence is disqualified from holding any public office.

This extremely dubious judgment undermines Hong Kong’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. Politically biased decisions such as this one will eat away at the island’s judiciary.

Beijing recognizes One Country, Two Systems. Hong Kong’s democracy activists stand a chance of success if they dispense with questions about the first part of that formulation, while pushing hard to enhance the practice of the latter.

China’s President Xi Jinping Stands Behind Hong Kong Leader Leung Chun-ying

November 21, 2016

LIMA, Peru — Hong Kong’s leader says Chinese President Xi Jinping has affirmed his handling of a political dispute in the Chinese-ruled territory in which two independent legislators were barred from taking their seats.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Xi had “fully affirmed our work” in a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima, Peru.

Leung said Xi referred to the decision to refuse to seat two elected members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council for using anti-China insults and foul language while taking their oaths. Xi has not publicly commented on the controversy.

Beijing handed down its own interpretation of the semi-autonomous region’s mini-constitution to disqualify the two, circumventing Hong Kong’s courts and raising fears over the city’s wide autonomy and independent judiciary.


Xi Jinping gives nod to work of Hong Kong government and urges CY to be ‘resolute’ in safeguarding national unity

Chinese president meets city’s top official on sidelines of Apec forum in Peru

Monday, November 21, 2016, 1:18 p.m.

Hong Kong chief executive race: “The problem with Leung Chun-ying is Leung Chun-ying” — “He’s driving voters away”

November 14, 2016

Leung Chun-ying’s political enemies seek to join Election Committee, weakening his support in key sectors

By Jeffie Lam and Tony Cheung
South China Morning Post
Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 12:27 a.m.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is facing a tougher possible re-election bid as only two-thirds of those who nominated him four years ago are seeking to join the Election Committee that will pick Hong Kong’s next leader.

As nominations closed on Monday for the Election Committee race, which is expected to be the fiercest yet, only 189 out of 305 people who named Leung in 2012 were among them. A total of 1,553 nominations were received.

Leung will be up against an aggressive opposition campaign by pan-democrats in the professional sector, considered to be one of his strongholds. Even some pro-establishment members appear to have joined the “Anyone But CY” campaign orchestrated by Leung’s political enemies.

Of the 189 Leung backers running for the Election Committee again, 42 are from the agricultural and fisheries sector and 15 from the labour sector – both his key support bases in 2012.

The pan-democrat camp, which bagged 205 votes in the committee’s last election, is fielding more members this year in sectors which they could not muster enough support in the past, such as health services, medical and the cultural sectors. The new momentum has transformed the professional sector into the most hotly contested battlefield of all.

At least 78 people are vying for the 30 seats of the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector, from which Leung previously secured 25 nominations. He was a surveyor before he became the city’s leader.

But some of his core supporters in the last election have stopped short of backing him this time.

 Vincent Ho Kui-yip, of the surveying sector, who nominated Leung in 2012, admitted that “backing CY” was a notion which could drive many voters away. Photo: Edward Wong

Vincent Ho Kui-yip, of the surveying sector, who nominated Leung in 2012, admitted that “backing CY” was a notion which could drive many voters away in today’s Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong needs a leader who can form a strong cabinet and unite society,” he said. “I think it is undeniable Leung’s cabinet has failed to coordinate well.”

District councillor Tang Ka-piu, of the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), which also backed Leung in the last poll, urged the incumbent to deliver his election promises on labour and welfare in his remaining tenure. He singled out the need to scrap the notorious mechanism that allows employers to use the money they put into workers’ retirement funds to cover severance and long-service payments.

“The FTU has yet to decide whom to support in the chief executive election … but we are indeed very anxious about Leung’s progress [in keeping his election promises],” he said.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said those running for the Election Committee would not easily voice support for Leung for now, as there would be “a huge price to pay”.

Beijing Slams Hong Kong ‘Separatist’ Threat

November 7, 2016

Communist Party invokes national-security provision, in warning to pro-democracy camp—but strategy isn’t without risks

Demonstrators throng the streets in Hong Kong.
Demonstrators throng the streets in Hong Kong. REUTERS

Nov. 7, 2016 12:52 p.m. ET

BEIJING—China’s Communist Party leadership delivered a sharp warning to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, taking aim at any officials deemed to defy the central government’s authority in the semiautonomous city.

In effectively barring two would-be Hong Kong lawmakers from taking their seats because they had insulted China, top legislators in Beijing invoked a national-security provision in Hong Kong’s miniconstitution to warn any lawmaker, senior civil servant or judicial officer against flouting their oath of office, which pledges allegiance to China.

Officials from the National People’s Congress Standing Committee justified their ruling Monday as necessary to curb “separatist” threats in Hong Kong, where dismay over heavy-handed Chinese rule flared into mass protests in 2014.

Critics said the move was one of Beijing’s most aggressive interventions into Hong Kong’s semiautonomy and rule of law that have underpinned the former British colony’s economic success. On Sunday, thousands took to the streets in the city to protest Beijing’s decision to weigh in on the controversy around the two local politicians.

Some Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers and political scientists say Beijing’s ruling lumps together a broad spectrum of voices for greater autonomy under a pro-independence banner that’s characterized as a threat to China’s unity—adding to central government efforts to stifle dissent in the city.

Warnings about the separatism threat are “just a red herring,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “This is to justify draconian tactics against the broader pan-democracy coalition and squeeze the public sphere in Hong Kong…under the pretext of preserving national sovereignty.”

Hong Kong has largely administered itself since returning to Chinese rule in 1997, thanks to a governing charter—the Basic Law—that accords the city a large degree of political autonomy as well as its own currency and judiciary. Even so, Beijing retains the power to issue binding interpretations on the charter, which it had exercised only four times before Monday.

The latest ruling stemmed from a dispute over whether the two Hong Kong politicians, democratically elected to the city’s legislature in September, can retake their oaths of office. The pair’s efforts to swear in as lawmakers had been suspended, pending Hong Kong legal proceedings, after they modified their oaths to pledge to defend a “Hong Kong nation,” while displaying a banner stating “Hong Kong is not China.”

A protester held a banner near the China Liaison Office during a march on Sunday to protest Beijing’s intervention in Hong Kong’s oath-taking controversy.
A protester held a banner near the China Liaison Office during a march on Sunday to protest Beijing’s intervention in Hong Kong’s oath-taking controversy. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Standing Committee Deputy Secretary-General Li Fei, speaking to reporters Monday, angrily denounced the pair as “traitors,” saying their display during their swearing-in attempt—including their use of a derogatory Japanese term for China—was “abominable.”

Mr. Li read passages from a history of Hong Kong that described nurses being raped and doctors being stabbed to death during the Japanese invasion in 1941. He said those who supported “national and ethnic traitors” becoming members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council “are occupying the same position as the fascists did back then.”

Mr. Li espoused a broad definition of what constitutes “separatist” advocacy, saying it includes calls for Hong Kong’s self-determination—a position some pro-democracy politicians say means demanding more freedoms from Beijing but not independence.

Such rhetoric suggests that Beijing is seizing on the oath-taking controversy to add pressure on more moderate political voices in Hong Kong, according to Claudia Mo, a lawmaker from the city’s pro-democracy Civil Party.

“Ever since the Umbrella Movement, Beijing has decided that Hong Kong is uncontrollable,” Ms. Mo said, referring to the 2014 pro-democracy protests. “The writing was on the wall.”

Pro-Beijing Hong Kong legislators held up placards in support of a ruling by the central government on two elected pro-independence lawmakers on Monday.
Pro-Beijing Hong Kong legislators held up placards in support of a ruling by the central government on two elected pro-independence lawmakers on Monday. PHOTO: ANTHONY WALLACE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Beijing’s approach risks blowback, political observers say, potentially by galvanizing segments of Hong Kong society—particularly younger residents—around the pro-democracy camp. But the cost of inaction may be even greater for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has honed an image as a firm nationalist and strong-arm leader, according to Mr. Lam, the Hong Kong academic.

In a document explaining Monday’s ruling, the Standing Committee said that advocacy of Hong Kong independence violates a provision in the Basic Law known as Article 23, which calls on Hong Kong authorities to enact laws prohibiting “treason, secession, sedition [and] subversion” against the central government. The city has yet to pass such laws; an attempt to do so in 2003 was withdrawn following mass public protests.

The Standing Committee’s comments are “a reminder from Beijing that Hong Kong can’t indefinitely postpone the enactment of its own security laws,” said Rao Geping, a law professor at Peking University who is also a member of the NPC’s Basic Law Committee.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying appeared to admit as much, telling reporters on Monday that new concerns about independence advocacy have given greater urgency to the need to enact laws implementing Article 23. He didn’t elaborate.

Legal scholars say the Hong Kong government may face fresh public opposition should it renew attempts to pass national-security laws. A potential workaround for Beijing is to use its powers to indirectly shape Hong Kong law, as it did Monday, according to Alvin Cheung, a doctoral student of authoritarian legal regimes at New York University.

“Beijing is now equating analytically distinct concepts” like self-determination and preservation of Hong Kong’s semiautonomy with calls for independence and threats to national security, Mr. Cheung said. Fears over Hong Kong independence are “being used as a pretext to entrench political control.”

Write to Chun Han Wong at and Josh Chin at

Alex Lo in Hong Kong: Suddenly, everyone is a constitutional expert.

November 7, 2016

By South China Morning Post Columnist Alex Lo

Rather than inviting Beijing to step in, localist lawmakers involved in oath-taking saga should have been advised to resign and trigger a by-election

Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 1:39am

Suddenly, everyone is a constitutional expert. I will leave the full legal implications of the latest interpretation by the nation’s parliament to those learned souls. Not a few of them belong to that party of barristers, the Civic Party.

Its members, lawmakers Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu and Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, rounded on Beijing and the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress yesterday. Maybe their criticism is right, maybe not. Maybe the NPC interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law really is more harmful than beneficial. I am no lawyer so I can’t argue with them.

I do find it ironic, though, that they should be the ones to complain. They and their party have done more than anyone to goad on those two star-crossed lawmakers-elect, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching of the party Youngspiration, thereby provoking the NPC’s heavy-handed response.

The whole thing might have been avoided if there had been fewer lawyers and more proper politicians at the Civic Party who could think a few steps ahead – instead of forever reacting to faits accomplis.

Instead of going out of their way to encourage Leung and Yau in the two’s offensive and pointless disruptions of the Legislative Council, they and other pan-democrats should have convinced them to resign.

That would automatically trigger a by-election, which they could claim to be another de facto referendum on their cause. It would also undermine any rationale for the government to persist with its judicial review and for the central government to launch an NPC interpretation.

There has also been a precedent, set by five pan-democrat lawmakers’ resignations in 2010, who were then re-elected. Of course, the government plugged the loophole with an amendment in 2012 that disqualifies any lawmaker from running in a by-election within six months of them resigning. But there would be no shortage of other localist candidates to take the places of Leung and Yau in any by-election.

Alvin Yeung yesterday warned pro-establishment lawmakers not to think they could just pick up the soon-to-be vacated seats left by Leung and Yau. If only he had thought of triggering a by-election earlier and helped avoid the intervention by the NPC.

It’s true Leung and Yau might have refused to resign, but then they might not have. The NPC’s Standing Committee might have produced an interpretation anyway, even if the pair had resigned, but then it might not have. Now it’s too late, and we are faced with a by-election anyway.


China Steps In To Hong Kong Politics, Legal Dispute: Elected pro-independence legislators cannot serve, must be investigated

November 7, 2016

“All traitors who sell out our country will never meet good ends.”

China’s parliament has effectively barred pro-independence legislators from the territory’s Legislative Council. The move by the Communist party was made through a controversial reading of Hong Kong’s constitution.

Hong Kong — Police armed with pepper spray and batons drive back protesters on Sunday, November 6, 2016.

The interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law stipulates that lawmakers must swear allegiance to the city as part of China when they take office. At a swearing-in ceremony last month, two recently elected Hong Kong lawmakers, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, altered their oaths to insert a disparaging Japanese term for China.

The stunt last month upset Beijing, which considers talk of independence to be treason. In issuing its ruling on Monday, it said the actions of the two lawmakers “posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security,” the state Xinhua news agency reported.

Li Fei, deputy secretary general of China’s top legislative panel, said that the comments amounted to an intentional insult. “All traitors who sell out our country will never meet good ends,” he said.

Now the Beijing’s National People’s Congress says that by deliberately altering their oaths, their swearing-in “should be determined to be invalid, and cannot be retaken.”


 Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying explains his plan to fully implement Beijing’s ruling in Hong Kong. Photo: Dickson Lee, SCMP

Hong Kong’s leader, Leung Chun-ying, told reporters that he and the city government would “implement the interpretation fully.” It also says those who advocate for independence are not only disqualified from election and from assuming posts as lawmakers, but should also be investigated for their legal obligations.

Deepening rift with mainland

Yau and Leung were among several Hong Kong lawmakers campaigning for self-determination who won seats in September polls. Having them disqualified from office would be a favorable outcome for China’s Communist leaders, who have become increasingly uneasy with the city’s growing independence movement.

The decision to invoke a rarely used power to interpret the constitution marks Beijing’s most direct intervention in the semi-autonomous city’s political system since it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday to demand that China’s central government stay out of the dispute. Fears about China’s increasing encroachment on freedoms in the former British colony prompted mass protests in 2014.

Britain transferred Hong Kong to Chinese control under a “one country, two systems” formula that gave the territory wide-ranging autonomy, including judicial freedom guided by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law.


“They openly advocated Hong Kong independence, insulted the country, endangered national unity, territorial integrity and national security,” Liao says. “The Standing Committee deemed there was a need to interpret the Basic Law to address the qualifications of these people.”

nm/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)


Hong Kong: After Anti-China Protests and Pepper Spray Sunday Night, City Prepares For Work Week and China’s Next Move

November 6, 2016

Officers use pepper spray on protesters angry that Beijing will issue an interpretation of the semiautonomous city’s Basic Law

Police used pepper spray on protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday evening as thousands rallied against Beijing’s plans to intervene in a political standoff over two local lawmakers who insulted China in the city’s legislature.

The conflict was the latest sign of a deepening rift between Beijing and many in Hong Kong over how much autonomy the city should have. Hong Kong is allowed to govern itself under a miniconstitution—the Basic Law—and has an independent judiciary. But Saturday, China’s top legislative body said it is prepared to override Hong Kong’s legal authority over how to handle the local lawmakers’ actions, which Beijing denounced as a threat to national security.

The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress said Saturday it would issue its own interpretation of the Basic Law as Beijing “cannot afford to sit idle” when faced with challenges to its authority over Hong Kong, according to the government-run Xinhua News Agency.

On Sunday, thousands marched in central Hong Kong to protest against China’s looming intervention. In scenes reminiscent of the city’s mass pro-democracy protests of 2014, video taken by local press showed police spraying the crowd and protesters protecting themselves with umbrellas.

Two of the Hong Kong’s youngest and most radical new lawmakers set off a fresh round of disorder by scuffling with security guards after storming into the chamber and trying to retake their oaths. Photo: Getty Images
Hong Kong Police Force senior superintendent Lewis Tse confirmed officers used pepper spray during a “chaotic” confrontation with protesters late Sunday. He said two men—aged 39 years and 57 years—had been arrested.

Hundreds of protesters gathered near Western Street, in the city’s Sai Ying Pun district, as the march against China’s reinterpretation of the Basic Law turned into a standoff with the police. People held umbrellas aloft and wore face masks to protect themselves from the pepper spray.

“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us,” said Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member. “They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”

In the crowd, familiar faces from the 2014 pro-democracy protests, known as the Umbrella Movement, were present.

“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us,” said Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the 23-year-old newly elected “localist” who has advocated for greater autonomy from China. “We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest,” he said of police attempts to move the crowd near China’s official Liaison Office on Connaught Road.

As the night wore on, rows of police held their lines, while others looked on from the steps of the Western Police Station. Officers stood with shields, warning protesters to keep maintain control and stay calm.

Protesters continued to mill around, disorganized, and many were unsure about whether they would stay out for whole night. Still, they agreed they wanted to take a stand with Beijing’s decision expected to be made Monday.

“We don’t know what’s the next move,” said Hang Tsoi, 25, who is also a cabin-crew member. “We are just trying to occupy.”

Around 1:00 a.m., Joshua Wong, a member of Demosisto (one of the political parties that participated in the evening protest) said several groups had announced the demonstration was over in order to avoid a “major sacrifice” amid the “unfavorable situation.”

The group called on the protesters to leave the scene.

Hong Kong started legal proceedings Thursday over whether its legislature should allow two politicians who advocate for greater Hong Kong autonomy to take office, after the pair staged an anti-China protest at their swearing-in ceremony last month.

Beijing’s interpretation of the relevant provision in Hong Kong’s Basic Law would supersede any local court ruling and Hong Kong lawyers have expressed concern that such an intervention would undermine the city’s semiautonomous status.

Police face off against protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.
Police face off against protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

The NPC Standing Committee, which added deliberations over the Basic Law to its agenda during a regular meeting this past week, said its intervention was “timely and necessary” to prevent a nascent Hong Kong independence movement from damaging the city’s “stability,” Xinhua reported.

The two politicians, democratically elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in September, “have hit the bottom line of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security,” the Standing Committee said, according to Xinhua.

In October, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung attempted to swear in as Legislative Council members while modifying their oath of office to pledge to defend a “Hong Kong nation,” displaying a banner stating “Hong Kong is not China,” and using a derogatory term for China.

The council barred their oaths, while their subsequent attempts to retake their oaths were rebuffed by the council president pending a local court ruling on whether the two had disqualified themselves from office.

The legal proceedings center on article 104 of the Basic Law, which states that legislators must swear allegiance to the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”

The Standing Committee discussed a draft interpretation of that article on Saturday, the details of which weren’t disclosed in Xinhua’s report. The committee is expected to vote on the interpretation before its meeting concludes Monday.

Earlier Sunday, protesters began gathering in central Hong Kong to march in the streets, carrying banners and shouting slogans.

“We are here to oppose the Chinese government’s so-called re-explanation of the law,” said Sunny Chan, 38 years old, who works in the investment field.

Some protesters see it as a move by Beijing to undermine the rules established when Hong Kong was handed over to China by the U.K. in 1997.

“I want them to keep the agreement of the basic law, give us universal suffrage and keep the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ as it was listed,” said Chris Fan, who works for an IT firm.

Still, others held modest expectations for what the march would achieve.

“I don’t think marching will do any good,” said Ives Cheng, 25, who is unemployed. “It’s just an act to demonstrate our anger.”

Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching during a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching during a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Beijing’s ruling would be only the fifth time since Hong Kong’s handover in 1997 that China has interpreted the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s miniconstitution. On previous occasions, Beijing has issued rulings—upon request from the city’s government—over the right of abode in Hong Kong and how many years the city’s top official should serve after his predecessor resigned midterm.

This time, however, Hong Kong authorities hadn’t asked China to issue an interpretation, local government lawyers and legislators said.

Beijing’s move to rule in the matter would “deal a severe blow to the independence of the judiciary and the power of final adjudication of the Hong Kong court,” the Hong Kong Bar Association said in a statement Wednesday.

Write to Ese Erheriene at, Chester Yung at and Chun Han Wong at

Earlier reports:

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