“The interpretation has made it clearer, and has not expanded the law,” Rao Geping, a member of the Basic Law Committee, said at a press conference on Monday. His statement came after Beijing handed down its interpretation of Basic Law Article 104 on Monday morning. The ruling said that oaths must be taken “sincerely and solemnly, and must accurately, completely and solemnly read out.”

Rao Geping. File

Article 104 relates to how officials, legal professionals and lawmakers pledge allegiance to Hong Kong and China.

See also: In full, in English: Beijing’s interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law

Rao said that it was clear that localist lawmakers Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching took their oaths in a way that “was very clearly” not sincere or solemn. The pair referring to “Chee-na” during their swearing-in session, which some deemed an insult to China. Rao said that according to current Hong Kong law, lawmakers whose oaths are deemed invalid, like Yau and Leung, must vacate their offices.

He said he believed that the courts can judge the standards for the taking of an oath. Regarding the oath taking by localist lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, who read it very slowly in October, Rao also said that it “would be difficult to regard it as solemn and sincere.”

Pro-Beijing lawmakers. Photo: InmediaHK.

Pro-Beijing camp: Review other lawmakers

The pro-Beijing camp also said in a statement that, according to the interpretation, “there was no need to rearrange for Yau and Leung’s retaking of the oath, and there is a need to review the validity and legality of other lawmakers’ oaths.”

They also said they “strongly condemned” the protest at Sai Wan on Sunday night over the Basic Law interpretation, saying that protesters had unlawfully assembled and charged into police’s line of defence. They offered condolences to the injured police officers.

Starry Lee. Photo: InmediaHK.

Starry Lee Wai-king, of the DAB, said that the party supported the interpretation of the Basic Law. She said that Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching had used the sincere and solemn platform of the Legislative Council to advocate for Hong Kong independence. She also said that people advocating independence, either openly or secretly were “getting more and more arrogant” and disagreed with the view that Beijing’s act destroyed Hong Kong’s rule of law.

Wong Kwok-kin, of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said that the interpretation of the law “protected One Country, Two Systems” and had a decisive effect on society. He said that the responsibility for the matter is upon Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching for advocating Hong Kong independence in legislature.

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.