Hong Kong Anthem Bill Hits Parliament Again

Pro-democracy parliamentarian Eddie Chu (center, right) is surrounded by security officials during a scuffle with pro-Beijing parliamentarians at the Hong Kong Legislative Council on May 18, 2020. Anthony WALLACE / AFP

Text by: RFI Follow

Clashes broke out on Monday, May 18 in Hong Kong between parliamentarians close to the Beijing-backed executive and other pro-democracy elected officials. This is the second altercation between deputies in the space of 10 days over the House committee, a body charged with examining bills before they pass second reading before the Legislative Council, the Hong Kong Parliament.


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New clashes erupted Monday inside the Legislative Council (LegCo), the Hong Kong parliament, the opposition trying to prevent the vote of a controversial text criminalizing any insult to the Chinese anthem.

These tensions have again crystallized, for the second time since the beginning of the month, around the Chamber Committee , whose role is to review bills before they are examined. And several pro-democracy elected officials were forced out of the parliamentary precinct by the security services.

Pro-Beijing takes over as President of Parliament

This commission has had no chairman since October, which means that no bill has been able to be passed since then. Elected members of the pro-democracy opposition have multiplied acts of obstruction and delaying tactics to prevent the appointment of a successor.

But in recent weeks, members of the pro-Beijing majority have stepped up efforts to break the legislative deadlock. This Monday, they placed in the presidency their own candidate, putting forward analyzes of jurists justifying this passage in force. A strategy strongly rejected by the opposition which, by producing its own legal analyzes, denounced an illegal act.

The enclosure suddenly became the scene of chaotic scenes, a pro-democracy elected official throwing away the pages torn from the rules of the assembly, when security guards wearing surgical masks and protective gloves got down to five to wear outside the hemicycle the most vehement opposition politicians.

The still deep political crisis in Hong Kong

This show once again illustrates the deep political crisis in Hong Kong, a territory which is supposed to enjoy until 2047 freedoms unknown in the rest of China, under the principle of "  One country, two systems  ", which had presided over its handover by London to Beijing in 1997.

The opposition has been denouncing Beijing's increasing interference in the affairs of its semi-autonomous region for years , with the help of a local executive who is appointed, and not elected, and a LegCo who 'is only partially elected by universal suffrage.

This discomfort resulted in seven months of political instability last year, with almost daily demonstrations, which sometimes degenerated into scenes of riots never seen on the territory since its handover.

This is another controversial bill that set fire to the powder in June 2019, the one that should have allowed extraditions to mainland China to be authorized. This text, finally abandoned, also gave rise to clashes within the LegCo, before the protest spread to the streets .

For its part, China has shown itself to be inflexible in the face of the democratic aspirations of the Hong Kongers, by presenting the 2019 dispute as a foreign plot aimed at destabilizing central power.

Beijing has clearly expressed its desire to see laws passed against sedition, against any insult to the national anthem, as well as the establishment of patriotic programs in schools.

(With agencies)

Read also: Hong Kong: China calls pro-democracy demonstrators “political virus to eliminate”

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