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Majority of HK residents support new interpretation


11-08-2016 06:29 BJT

China's National People's Congress has adopted an interpretation of Article 104 of the Hong Kong Basic Law. It clarifies the legal requirements of those running for election and taking public office in the Special Administrative Region. It also covers legal responsibilities should civil servants disagree with or violate the swearing-in oath. The ruling came after some lawmakers-elect in Hong Kong violated the Basic Law during an oath-taking ceremony at the SAR's Legislative Council.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee has unanimously passed its interpretation of Article 104 of the Hong Kong Basic Law. The Hong Kong SAR government said it welcomed Beijing’s decision, and would implement the ruling fully.

"I and the SAR government support the interpretation passed by the NPCSC today. As the Chief Executive of the SAR, I have the duty to implement the Basic Law. I and the SAR government will implement the interpretation fully," HK SAR chief executive Leung Chun-Ying said.

This recent interpretation prevents two lawmakers-elect Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching from taking seats in Legislative Council.

Earlier in October, both of them displayed pro-independence banners and used derogatory words to insult the Chinese mainland as they took their oath. Their swearing-in was declared invalidated.

The interpretation makes it clear that any oaths taken in a manner that is not sincere or solemn will be taken as invalid. The officer or legislator also will not be allowed to take office.

The High Court in Hong Kong is currently holding a judiciary review on whether they can take the oath again.

There were concerns that Beijing’s attempts would damage the region’s judiciary independence. But many agree the interpretation is timely, necessary and justified.

"I support the interpretation. There were loopholes in local laws," Yeung Yiu Chung, president of HK Federation of Education Workers, said.

"The interpretation gives Hong Kong a clear guidance on what kind of people can enter the government of legislative council. The majority of Hong Kong citizens hold zero tolerance to some people’s pro-independence activities. The national integrity is the common wish of 1.3 billion Chinese," Chan King-Wai, chairman of HK China Chamber of Commerce, said.

Since Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee has interpreted the Basic Law five times. Observers say it shows Beijing has been very careful in exercising this prerogative.

Under Article 104, it is a requirement for all Hong Kong officials to express political allegiance to the Chinese mainland. This recent pro-independence act by legislators-elect seriously violated the principle of “one country, two systems”, the Hong Kong Basic Law, as well as the region’s local laws.

Pro-independence ideas and movements have been spreading in Hong Kong in recent years. The central government is releasing a message that it will firmly confront the pro-independence forces to protect territorial integrity and national security.

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