Beijing tells Hong Kong it will interpret Basic Law amid oath-taking row

Pro-Beijing supporters rally against legislators-elect Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching outside the High Court in Hong Kong on Nov 3, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

HONG KONG - Beijing, which is seeking to bar two pro-independence lawmakers from re-taking their oaths, will be handing down an interpretation of the Basic Law, the Hong Kong government has been told.

China will disclose its interpretation of the Basic Law on Monday (Nov 7) and inform Hong Kong on Tuesday (Nov 8), before the Legco session on Wednesday (Nov 9).

The city's High Court was also informed on Friday (Nov 4) morning after it held a full-day hearing on a judicial review sought by the Chief Executive to challenge Legco president's decision to let the pair from Youngspiration re-take their oath.

Beijing has decided to intervene following an order from National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang to interpret the Basic Law Article 104, which states that lawmakers need to swear allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China.

Ms Yau Wai Ching and Mr Sixtus Leung of Youngspiration had their swearing-in oaths invalidated by the president after displaying a banner that read "Hong Kong is not China" and altered the wording of their oaths, including derogatory terms and expletives.

Mr Andrew Leung, president of the Legislative Council (Legco), the city's lawmaking body, initially agreed to give them a second chance at taking their oaths.

But that decision was challenged in court by Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying. Goverment lawyers argued in court on Thursday (Nov 3) that the lawmakers should be banned from taking up their seats, Agence France-Presse reported.

Mr Leung said earlier this week that he could not rule out the possibility that Beijing might get involved.

There has been widespread concern that China is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city and this has fuelled an independence movement in Hong Kong.

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