HONG KONG, Jul 30, 2020, BBC. Hong Kong authorities have disqualified a dozen pro-democracy candidates from upcoming elections, deepening political tensions in the Chinese territory, BBC reported.
Opposition legislators had hoped to win a majority in the Legislative Council in September’s poll after Beijing’s imposition of a highly controversial national security law.
Among those barred are high-profile activists Joshua Wong and Lester Shum.
The government said the candidates were not fit to run for office.
It said they could not be considered to be abiding by the constitutional duty required of lawmakers if they:
- advocated for, or promoted, Hong Kong’s independence
- solicited intervention by foreign governments in Hong Kong’s affairs
- expressed “an objection in principle” to the imposition of the national security law by central authorities in Beijing
The new national security law has been highly controversial in Hong Kong, a former British colony which is now part of China but which was given unique freedoms in a mini-constitution agreed before the transfer of sovereignty.
The new law was widely condemned by Western governments but China says it is necessary to restore stability in the territory, which was hit by months of pro-democracy protests last year which often turned violent.
The disqualification of candidates comes as Hong Kong sees a resurgence of coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said it was on the verge of a “large-scale outbreak”, which could cause hospitals to “collapse”.
There has been speculation that the government could postpone the election as a result.