Former top Beijing official Chen Zuo’er has said that there were many lawmakers who did not fulfil oath taking requirements, after Beijing handed down its interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law Article 104 on Monday.

Beijing’s interpretation said that oaths must be “accurately, completely and solemnly read out.” Chen, who was speaking at a forum in Shenzhen discussing the interpretation, is the chairman of a think tank called the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

Chen Zuoer.

He said that apart from the Youngspiration duo Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, whose oaths stirred controversy, there were other lawmakers who took actions such as calling for democratic self-determination, waving umbrellas, and using a different tone to read out the word for country. These oaths are all dishonest and do not fulfil the requirements of solemn oath taking, he said.

“The central government has now given a sharp weapon to Hong Kong’s executive, judicial, and legislative branches,” he told the media. “As for those who, at the time of taking their oath, [did so] in insincere and dishonest ways – now [Hong Kong] can clearly rely on the law. We are like all other countries in the world and have zero tolerance for separatist behaviour.”

Nathan Law, one of the lawmakers whose oaths are now being questioned. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

See also: Video: Democratic lawmakers stage protests and alter oaths as new term kicks off at Hong Kong legislature

“In the face of the problem of Hong Kong independence, and on the issue of secession, the central government does not have a sliver of space to concede,” he added.

However, he also said that the trend of Hong Kong independence cannot be eliminated immediately. “One cannot simply kill it off. This is a battle, but one battle will not solve all problems,” he said. “But I ultimately believe that the heavens are watching what people are doing. The heavens are above us. The people advocating independence will certainly be like mice [in Hong Kong] – everyone will hit them and scream at them.”

Wang Zhenmin. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

Meanwhile, Wang Zhenmin, the legal chief of the China Liaison Office, also said that there were 15 lawmakers who used the oath taking ceremony as a “chance to perform” even if they did not advocate independence. He said that it was behaviour that was “unfaithful and not protective of the country.”

Chen also hit out at lawyers who participated in a silent march held on Tuesday in protest of the interpretation, saying that the protest was caused by different understandings of the matter,

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.