An “anti-mainlandisation” bill introduced by Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo was voted down by members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Thursday morning.

The motion, based on the Basic Law assurance that Hong Kong’s way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years from the former colony’s retrocession, sought to defend local history and culture from the influence of mainland China.

Text of anti-mainlandisation motion. Photo: Claudia Mo via Facebook.

The motion called for the immediate cancellation of multi-entry permits for Shenzhen residents, an end to white elephant projects promoting regional integration, and the formulation of a long-term population development policy for Hong Kong.

On Thursday, it was revealed that Hong Kong’s one-way permit system had brought in 879,000 mainland Chinese since the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

‘Fakeness, rampant corruption and abuse of power’

During the Council’s debate on the motion, Mo defined the components of “mainlandisation” as “fakeness, rampant corruption and the abuse of power.”

The Federation of Trade Unions’ Wong Kwok-hing described Mo’s intentions as “very low and despicable,” accusing her of being “racially discriminatory”, “distorting history” and seeking to “split the nation and create conflict”.

“Since ancient times” Wong said, “we have been part of China; we have the same ethnic origin… How can we be de-mainlandised? We cannot deny the fact we are from the Chinese race.”

Claudia Mo. Photo: Claudia Mo via Facebook.

Mo denied the accusation of racial discrimination by reiterating Wong’s earlier remarks that Hongkongers and mainland Chinese shared the same ethnic origin.

She also deflected New People’s Party leader Regina Ip’s suggestion that the motion discriminated against the teaching and use of Putonghua, China’s national language. “I speak better Putonghua than Regina Ip,” Mo told the chamber.

Mo’s motion was rejected by strong majority of functional constituency representatives, only six of whom supported the motion. Twenty representatives voted down the motion whilst a further 20 were absent from the vote.

The Council’s geographical constituencies were more evenly split, with 13 members supporting the motion and 14 voting against. Twenty-three did not attend the vote.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others