Pro-independence politicians Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang are like “two cancer cells – if you don’t care about it, it will continue to hurt your body,” the director of Hong Kong’s China Liaison Office has said.

Zhang Xiaoming was speaking at a meeting with members and representatives from the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on Sunday. His comments came before an interpretation of Basic Law Article 104 was handed down on Monday.

zhang xiaoming
Zhang Xiaoming. File photo: TVB screenshot via Stand News.

Article 104 says 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.”

See also: LIVE: Beijing intervenes in Hong Kong oath row, makes rare ruling to block pro-independence lawmakers

Yau and Leung’s oaths were deemed invalid in October when they took them while carrying a flag that said “Hong Kong is not China” and called China “Chee-na,” considered a derogatory term by some.

The government then launched a legal challenge blocking the two from retaking their oaths. Beijing handed down its interpretation of the Basic Law on Monday.

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

Global Times wrote in an opinion piece on Monday prior to the ruling on the interpretation that “Hong Kong has fallen into a discourse trap which is a whole system completely opposite to the values and premise of the basic law, including that the central government should not manage Hong Kong matters, and that as long as the Central government expresses opinion about Hong Kong affairs, it is destroying Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy… “

It said that “Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy does not mean that the central government cannot manage anything” related to the territory. It said that interpretation of the law was “the responsibility of the central government, and also an obligation which it must carry for Hong Kong society and everybody in the country.”

Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching. File photo: HKFP

People’s Daily cited Hong Kong media, saying that 95 per cent of Hong Kong people surveyed in a poll had wanted an interpretation of the law and said that “various sectors of Hong Kong supported [interpretation] and that the interpretation came not only at the right time, but also is the best way to completely resolve the relevant disputes.”

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.