The chairman of the Basic Law Institute in Hong Kong has said that if there is an interpretation of the Basic Law by China’s top legislative body, it would give an explanation in principle about the standard for pledging loyalty to China.

Senior counsel Alan Hoo Hon-ching said on an RTHK radio programme on Friday that the central government since April has been saying the Hong Kong independence movement was damaging national security, and such actions should bear criminal consequences. However, no-one has yet to be criminally charged with advocating independence.

“I am sure the central government was disappointed in the government, the executive branch,” he said.

Alan Hoo Hon-ching
Alan Hoo Hon-ching. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Hoo, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said from the viewpoint of the central government, it would certainly be a damaging incident for national security if a lawmaker advocated Hong Kong independence in the Legislative Council.

Youngspiration lawmakers Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chun-hang and Yau Wai-ching has yet to complete their oaths of office, as some deemed their modified oaths an insult to Chinese people. The High Court heard a judicial review requesting it to declare their offices vacant, but a ruling has yet to be handed down as Mr Justice Thomas Au said he would do so “as soon as practicable.”

LegCo president as target

Hoo said Beijing was concerned as to whether Leung and Yau would be the only two in the LegCo advocating independence. Previously, LegCo president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen decided to allow the duo to retake their oaths, before retracting this decision.

“If there will be an interpretation of the Basic Law, the target would be the LegCo president, not the court,” he said. “This interpretation should be defining what is pledging loyalty, what is secession, for every single official, especially lawmakers… I think it will be a comprehensive, principle [interpretation].”

“I think it will include [an interpretation] for all people in the establishment, on what is pledging loyalty, the quality of pledging loyalty, the standard set by the country on oath-taking. [Beijing] would expect the standard is the same for Hong Kong and the country,” he said.

Hoo said the interpretation may also explain requirements for candidates joining the Legislative Council election.

Zhang Dejiang
Zhang Dejiang with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. File Photo: GovHK.

Beijing’s top legislative body is to announce Friday afternoon the incorporation of an interpretation of the Basic Law into its meeting agenda, said pro-establishment lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun on Commercial Radio Friday morning.

Maria Tam Wai-chu, a National People’s Congress deputy, said on Friday in Beijing that the chairman of the Congress, Zhang Dejiang, preemptively requested the interpretation of the Basic Law Article 104.

The article stipulates that, “When assuming office, the Chief Executive, principal officials, members of the Executive Council and of the Legislative Council, judges of the courts at all levels and other members of the judiciary in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region must, in accordance with law, swear to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”

She said that the request was because this was related to the unity of the country.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.