Millennials Elected to Office in Hong Kong Barred by China

Parliamentary committee head calls them 'traitors' for fighting for independence, altering oaths
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2016 3:48 PM CST
Millennials Elected to Office in Hong Kong Barred by China
In this photo from Wednesday, newly elected Hong Kong lawmakers Yau Wai-ching, center left, and Sixtus Leung, center right, are surrounded by photographers in Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

(Newser) – China has turned a blind eye to much of what Hong Kong does, because an international treaty spells out that the former British colony is entitled to a "high degree of autonomy," per the New York Times. But China finally put its foot down Monday to block two young independence-advocating activists from assuming legislative seats after winning elections there. Sixtus "Baggio" Leung, 30, and Yau Wai-ching, 25—part of the "Youngspiration" party, per NPR—took their oaths of office in October, but instead of swearing allegiance to the "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China," both said "Chee-na" (widely seen as a pejorative), and Yau threw in an obscenity for good measure. None of which pleased China, which accused the two millennials of threatening national security with their constant talk of liberation and wordplay.

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And so Beijing whipped out a rare interpretation of Hong Kong's "Basic Law"—set up before the territory's sovereignty was passed over from Britain in 1997, and which gives China power over Hong Kong courts. That law issues a vague requirement that those taking office swear allegiance "in accordance with law," with some arguing the whole deal is murky. The duo's oaths were ruled invalid, and the pair was effectively denied the chance to retake them by the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Monday, per the AP. The chair of the country's parliamentary committee on the law notes, "There is a great patriotic tradition in the Chinese nation. All traitors and those who sell out their countries will come to no good end." The ruling came just one day after thousands of democracy activists demonstrated in Hong Kong, Australia's ABC notes. (Hong Kong is also too crowded for sex.)

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