Australia has called on Chinese authorities to allow Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to fulfil its role as the primary forum for popular political expression in Hong Kong, and to remain a key pillar of the rule of law and the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said yesterday this was critical to maintaining international confidence in crisis-wracked Hong Kong as a major international financial and trading centre.
Democratic institutions are being undermined
“Beijing’s disqualification of duly elected Legislative Council lawmakers seriously undermines Hong Kong’s democratic processes and institutions, as well as the high degree of autonomy set out in the Basic Law and Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the Foreign Minister warned.
The disqualifications follow the arrests of current and former pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong over an incident in the Legislative Council in May this year.
The Hong Kong Government has subsequently disqualified four legislators — Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung.
International community monitoring situation
All of Hong Kong’s remaining pro-democracy opposition politicians are now resigning in protest against the dismissal of their colleagues from the territory’s Legislative Council.
“Australia and the international community will continue to monitor developments closely and maintain a consistent focus on human rights and the principles of freedom, transparency, autonomy and the rule of law,” Payne said.
The Hong Kong lawmakers told a news conference they were submitting their letters of resignation after China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed a resolution this week saying any lawmaker who supports Hong Kong’s independence, refuses to acknowledge China’s sovereignty over the city, threatens national security, or asks external forces to interfere in the city’s affairs should be disqualified.
A ‘ruthless move’ by the Beijing authorities
Wu Chi-wai, convener of the pro-democracy camp, called the decision “a ruthless move”, adding: “although we are facing a lot of difficulties in the coming future for the fight of democracy, we will never, ever give up”.
Shortly after the disqualifications, China’s representative office in the city said Hong Kong had to be ruled by loyalists.
“The political rule that Hong Kong must be governed by patriots shall be firmly guarded,” it said a statement.