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China wades into Hong Kong rebel lawmaker oath battle

Newly elected lawmakers Yau Wai-ching, 25, (L) and Baggio Leung, 30, (2nd L) hold a press conference at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on November 4, 2016. Photograph: (AFP)

AFP Hong Kong Nov 04, 2016, 10.47 AM (IST)

Beijing is mulling over banning the two Hong Kong lawmakers who advocate a split from China from taking up their seats in the Legislative Council (Legco), authorities in the special autonomous region said on Friday.

At a court hearing on Thursday, Hong Kong authorities sought to disqualify Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching from the Legco after they made invalid oaths, amid widespread fears that China is tightening its grip on the city.

China's top legislative body will discuss the law which states that council members must swear allegiance to the "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China", AFP reported.

According to local media reports, China's National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) could issue an "interpretation" of Hong Kong's constitution on Monday in relation to the case.

"The interpretation of the NPCSC brings a lethal blow to the legal system and the rule of law in Hong Kong," lawmaker Leung was reported as saying by AFP after the announcement.

He also called the chairman of the NPCSC and the leader of the city "traitors to Hong Kong".

Yau and Leung are yet to be sworn into the Legco. Their first oath attempt last month was declared invalid. The two had draped themselves in "Hong Kong is not China" banners at the oath and had included derogatory terms and expletives in their pledges, the AFP report stated.

Government lawyer Benjamin Yu at Thursday's court hearing argued that Leung and Yau should not be allowed to take up their seats because they failed to swear allegiance to Hong Kong as an "inalienable part of China" at the oath-taking ceremony.

Maria Tam, a member of the Basic Law Committee, said that the NPCSC had asked for the Basic Law Committee's view on the matter.

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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