Britain expresses concern over China decision on Hong Kong pro-independence lawmakers

Ms Yau Wai Ching and Mr Baggio Leung of the Youngspirations organisation march during a protest in Hong Kong on Nov 6, 2016.
Ms Yau Wai Ching and Mr Baggio Leung of the Youngspirations organisation march during a protest in Hong Kong on Nov 6, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS, XINHUA) - Britain expressed concern on Monday (Nov 7) at a ruling by China's National People's Congress that effectively bars two elected Hong Kong pro-independence politicians from taking office.

The move by Beijing is considered Beijing's most direct intervention in the territory's legal and political system since Britain handed over the colony to China in 1997.

Beijing's move came after Ms Yau Wai Ching, 25, and Mr Baggio Leung, 30, pledged allegiance to the "Hong Kong nation" and displayed a banner declaring "Hong Kong is not China" during a swearing-in ceremony for the city's Legislative Council in October.

"We are concerned by recent developments in the Legislative Council and, while we recognise the National People's Congress Standing Committee's authority to interpret the Basic Law, by its decision to issue an opinion at this time," a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said.

The National People's Congress in Beijing ruled that lawmakers must swear allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China and that candidates would be disqualified if they changed the wording of their oath of office or if they failed to take it in a sincere and solemn manner.

"We urge the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR Governments, and all elected politicians in Hong Kong to refrain from any actions that fuel concerns or undermine confidence in the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle," the British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

"Hong Kong's prosperity and stability depends on its successful implementation, as provided for by the Joint Declaration and Basic Law," she said.

But China said on Monday that foreign countries should not intervene in Hong Kong affairs. "We hope the international community can recognise the true colours of the pro-independence forces, and fully understand the necessity and legitimacy of the interpretation by the top legislature," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a regular news briefing.

"Hong Kong is a special administrative region under the Chinese central government, and its affairs fall within China's domestic domain and should be free from foreign intervention," Mr Lu said.

The pro-independence forces' attempt to separate Hong Kong from China is against the law and the people's will, and damages China's sovereignty and security and the interests of Hong Kong and foreign countries, the spokesperson said.