‘Patriotism is love for Communist Party’: China to make Hong Kong’s local officials pledge allegiance

Shweta Sharma
·3 min read
<p>Anyone who would breach the oath could be suspended pending a court hearing and would face potential disqualification under the amendment </p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Anyone who would breach the oath could be suspended pending a court hearing and would face potential disqualification under the amendment

(AFP via Getty Images)

To ensure only “patriots” are running the government, Hong Kong, the government has announced electoral changes to make local officials pledge allegiance to the Chinese government.

The district councillors or local politicians who would fail the loyalty test will face disqualification and a five-year ban on running for re-election.

The Chinese cabinet has endorsed the bill to “ensure patriots were running Hong Kong” and politicians deemed insincere would be blocked from office, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, Erick Tsang, said on Tuesday.

"You cannot say that you are patriotic but you do not love the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party or you do not respect it - this does not make sense," Mr Tsang added. "Patriotism is holistic love."

“If you claim to be patriotic and you don’t respect, or you try to sabotage, the basic characteristics of our system – a system led by the [People’s Republic of China] – that would not be acceptable,” he added.

On Monday, a top official in Beijing said provisions should be made to ensure that Hong Kong is run by “patriots”, explaining these are the people who love China and the Communist Party whole excludes anti- China “troublemakers”.

Critics and activists say the move will further stifle dissent and target pro-democracy members who won in 2019 election with landslide votes and increased control of ruling Communist Party over the former British colony, which was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise to its own rights and freedom for 50 years.

After China imposed strict national security law in Hong Kong last year to curb the pro-democracy protests, a number of lawmakers have been expelled and arrested for favouring greater autonomy.

The bill will potentially pave way for more mass disqualification of pro-democracy politicians. The legislation will be tabled in the Legislative Council in March. It would extend oath of allegiance requirements to district councillors or local politicians.

If enacted, the politicians must pledge allegiance to Hong Kong as a special administrative region of mainland China, and the city’s mini-constitution as the basic law.

Mr Tsang said anyone seeking or advocating independence of Hong Kong or refusing to recognise sovereignty of China over Hong Kong would face threat of being disqualified under the new law.

It would include insulting the national Chinese or Hong Kong flag, national anthem or other symbols of condition as offences.

“To reflect the [solemnity] of the taking of the oath, we think anyone who fails to comply with the requirements should face restrictions on their ability to stand for election,” Mr Tsang said.

Amnesty International China’s chief Joshua Rosenzweig said the bill is another attempt by China to “silence critics and strip people of their right to political participation”.

“Holding everybody in public service to their legal obligations is one thing; but it is something else entirely to essentially attempt to purge everybody from any branch of government that holds and expresses a different viewpoint from that of the government,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.

The district council has a majority of pro-democracy members, making it only completely democratic institution in Hong Kong. However, its Legislative Council has majority of pro-Beijing members.

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