Clashes erupt in Hong Kong legislature as pro-democracy activists charged

18 Mai, 2020, 17:10 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Lawmakers scuffle at the House Committees election of chairpersons at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on May 18

Calls for greater democracy have snowballed in recent years as fears rise that Beijing is working to erode Hong Kong's freedoms.

In 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to China.

Pro-democracy lawmakers have used filibustering to stop voting for a new chair.

At Monday's meeting, pro-democracy lawmakers held up placards that read "Abuse of Power" and "CCP tramples HK legislature", referring to China's ruling Communist Party.

Starry Lee, leader of the pro-Beijing DAB, the largest party in the body, was eventually elected with 40 votes.

Beijing has made clear it wants new security legislation passed after last year's unrest, including an anti-sedition law and the national anthem bill - as well as more "patriotic" education in schools.

The clashes marked the second time in 10 days that legislators have resorted to physical confrontation over the procedures of electing a chairperson.

Those protests were initially sparked by another controversial bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

Lawmakers are due to give the national anthem bill its second reading on May 27.

Pan-democratic politician Lam Cheuk-ting is removed by security during a scuffle between lawmakers at Hong Kong's Legislative Council on Monday

Mr Liao acknowledged the bill could spark social unrest.

Social distancing amid the pandemic has largely put a brake on protests since January, but demonstrations are expected to resume later this year with the outbreak coming under control.

Veteran politicians, a publishing tycoon and senior lawyers were among those arrested last month in the biggest crackdown on the movement's key figures since the protests began.

China's Hong Kong affairs office warned this month that the city would never be calm unless "black-clad violent protesters" were all removed, describing them as a "political virus" that seeks independence from Beijing.

Hong Kong's government say police are following the law while Beijing has praised the prosecutions.

"The reality in Hong Kong today is that whenever Beijing, whenever Carrie Lam and the pro-establishment don't like something, they will do whatever it takes, including breaking the system that we have, the rules that we have", Kwok said Monday.

China's leaders have dismissed popular anger in Hong Kong and instead portrayed last year's protests as a foreign-sponsored plot to destabilise the motherland.

"Any decision impinging on Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms as guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law would inevitably impact our assessment of One Country, Two Systems and the status of the territory", Pompeo said in an official statement.

The "one country, two systems" deal formed the basis of the territory's special status under U.S. law, which has helped it thrive as a world financial centre.

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