The director of the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong has said that the “terrible” behaviour during the swearing-in ceremony cannot be tolerated and that those advocating Hong Kong independence should be punished according to the law.

Zhang Xiaoming, head of Beijing’s representative organ in the city, was speaking at an event on Tuesday night.

Zhang Xiaoming. Photo: TVB screenshot via Stand News.

“The terrible behaviour during oath taking is not something that is a trivial farce, but seriously breached the One Country, Two Systems bottom line,” said Zhang. “Any speech and activities advocating Hong Kong independence should be punished according to the law, and there should be no reason to tolerate or indulge it.”

He also said that such behaviour hurt the feelings of Chinese people around the world.

Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Zhang’s comments came as sources told Hong Kong media on Tuesday night that Beijing may issue an interpretation of the Basic Law over the eligibility of two localist lawmakers, Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang. The two lawmakers’ oaths were deemed invalid after they carried a flag stating “Hong Kong is not China” during oath-taking. They also pronounced China as “Chee-na,” a term often regarded as a slur.

See also: Beijing may issue interpretation of Hong Kong constitution over oath-taking – reports

The Hong Kong government has taken a tough stance against talk of independence, and have filed for a judicial review against Yau and Leung’s eligibility in the Legislative Council after their failed oath-taking attempts. The government’s application was granted and the case will be heard on Thursday.

Lo Wai-chung. Photo: HKPF screencap.

Last month, the Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung said that although advocating independence was in violation of the Basic Law, the police could not take action on independence advocates unless their actions violate Hong Kong law.


Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.