Home PoliticsPolitical Protests Beijing unbound: Hong Kong’s autonomy crumbles as China rewrites the law

Beijing unbound: Hong Kong’s autonomy crumbles as China rewrites the law

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By Thomas E. Kellogg

It was dramatic political theatre. Just hours after a decision by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress led to the expulsion of four prominent pan-democratic lawmakers, Hong Kong’s remaining 15 pan-dems resigned their seats in protest. Newspapers around the world carried photos of the 19 newly-unemployed lawmakers facing a phalanx of microphones, hands clasped in solidarity. 

Fifteen Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers announce to collectively resign after Beijing passed a decision giving the local authorities powers to oust four democrats with immediate effect. Photo: Democratic Party.

From Beijing’s perspective, the day was a complete political success: its decision signalled the end of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council as one of the last high-profile platforms for pro-democratic advocacy. The central government also sent a clear signal to future legislators: they too could be dealt with equally harshly for their own national security transgressions, however broadly defined.

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