Britain’s last colonial governor of Hong Kong accused Beijing on Thursday of carrying out “an outrageous political purge” of pro-democracy parties after a dozen candidates were disqualified for standing in an upcoming election.
“The National Security law is being used to disenfranchise the majority of Hong Kong’s citizens,” Chris Patten said in a statement.
“It is obviously now illegal to believe in democracy… This is the sort of behaviour that you would expect in a police state,” he added.
The moves were the latest blows against the semi-autonomous city’s democracy movement, which has been under sustained attack from China’s Communist Party rulers.
The democracy campaigners had been hoping to win a first-ever majority in the partially elected legislature, which is deliberately weighted to return a pro-Beijing chamber.
China imposed a national security law last month on Hong Kong outlawing subversion, which it warned was a “sword” hanging over the head of democracy protesters.
In a statement Hong Kong’s government listed political views that required disqualification — including criticising Beijing’s new security law, campaigning to win a legislation-blocking majority and refusing to recognise China’s sovereignty.
The Liaison Office, which represents Beijing in Hong Kong, hailed the disqualifications, describing the candidates as “unscrupulous delinquents” who had “crossed the legal bottom line” with their political views.
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