Beijing’s top man in Hong Kong accuses Legco localists of treating community like ‘idiots’
Zhang Xiaoming claims oath controversy involving Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching highlights need for patriotic education
Beijing’s top man in Hong Kong has upped the ante in the battle over political oath taking by accusing pro-independence lawmakers at the centre of the controversy of “blasphemy” and treating the wider local community like “idiots”.
Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, also stated the oath-taking controversy that erupted last month highlighted the need for “patriotic education in schools”.
“Unless they are assuming all people are idiots, they could not deny that they went against the procedure and blasphemed the oath’s content,” he said.
He described the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress as taking “necessary action in accordance with law and its responsibility”.
“Otherwise it would be neglecting the law and appeasing treason, and there would be no end to troubles in the future,” he said.
On October 12, pro-independence lawmakers-elect Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching pledged allegiance to a “Hong Kong nation” and used derogatory language to insult China during their swearing-in ceremony. Their actions prompted China’s top legislative body to issue a ruling on November 7 that lawmakers face instant disqualification for failing to take oaths “sincerely”.
The ruling came in the form of an interpretation of Article 104 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which states that lawmakers must pledge allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China.
On Friday, President Xi Jinping called for national unity in a strongly worded speech, vowing to oppose separatism in any form and taking aim at Taiwan and independence sentiment in Hong Kong.
“We will never allow anyone, any organisation, any party to split off any tract of territory from China any time, or in any way,” Xi said at a commemoration marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sun Yat-sen, who oversaw the end of millennia of imperial rule in China.
Zhang said Xi’s speech was to date “the sternest warning against separatist forces in Taiwan and Hong Kong”.
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The senior official said the oath-taking controversy as well as some Hongkongers’ opposition to the Basic Law were reminders that “we need to pay attention to the issue of patriotic education in schools”.
In 2012, the Hong Kong government shelved its compulsory national education curriculum after student leaders such as Joshua Wong Chi-fung, later active in the Occupy movement of 2014, led parents and teachers in opposing it.
Zhang was speaking ahead of two pro-Beijing rallies outside the Legislative Council complex on Sunday. The events shared similar themes of “anti-independence and pro-interpretation”. They were organised by Caring Hong Kong Power and an alliance of pro-Beijing groups, respectively.