China says HK legislators must uphold Basic Law amid new U.S. sanctions threats
Updated 22:05, 07-Dec-2020

When asked to comment on a potential new round of U.S. sanctions targeting officials in charge of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) issues, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Monday doubled down on the country's bottom line to legislators – they will have to uphold the Basic Law while staying loyal to the government.

According to a Reuters report, Washington is moving to impose sanctions on up to 14 officials over their alleged role in "Beijing's disqualification of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong." Those would include officials in China's top legislature and the Communist Party of China (CPC), with measures potentially including asset freezes and financial sanctions.

"Such a decision has yet to be made public," Hua said at a regular press briefing. "But if the reports are true, you would know China's stance."

"It is of international understanding for those who work within state departments to take an oath to staying loyal to the country's regulations... American congressmen must stay loyal to the American Constitution while in the UK, those who don't pledge allegiance to the Queen cannot work with the parliament," she said. "As an official working for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, he or she would have to faithfully uphold the Basic Law of the HKSAR."

In early November, the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress – the country's top legislative body – passed a resolution that would immediately remove disqualified Hong Kong legislators if approved by the local government. That includes those who "endanger national security, support 'Hong Kong independence' or seek foreign meddling in Hong Kong affairs." 

Four former legislators were immediately disqualified following the decision.

"We ... could not allow members of the LegCo (the HKSAR Legislative Council) who had been judged in accordance to the law that they could not fulfill the requirement and prerequisite to continue to operate in the LegCo," HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam told the media in November. The Hong Kong leader also denied filibustering and added that her administration still welcomes "diverse opinions."

If new U.S. sanctions passed, it would mark the latest round in the deteriorating China-U.S. relationship. Most recently, Washington terminated five cultural programs with China citing "soft power propaganda tools," after labeling major Chinese media operating in the U.S. as "foreign missions" earlier this year.

Experts shed concerns on the U.S. censures. 

"The action puts paid to any pretenses of the U.S. as a multicultural society," commented Stephen Ndegwa, a Nairobi-based lecturer-scholar at the United States International University-Africa, in a CGTN opinion piece. "The claims also have a tinge of racism, a phenomenon that blew up in the country's face after the death of Black American George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of a white policeman."

(Cover: Ministry of Foreign Affairs photo)