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China warns new Hong Kong lawmakers not to back independence

Only 40 out of 70 total seats are directly elected by the public, while special-interest groups representing a range of mostly pro-China businesses and social sectors select the other 30 legislators. Photograph: (Getty)

WION Hong Kong Sep 06, 2016, 02.03 PM (IST)
Beijing has warned newly elected Hong Kong politicians not to back independence after pro-democracy activists gained ground in the Hong Kong Legislative Council election held on Sunday (September 4). 

Since 2014, it was the first time several pro-independence candidates emerged victorious in Sunday's election.

Official results show that pro-democracy candidates won 30 of the 70 seats in Hong Kong's 70-seat Legislative Council (Legco). 

Only 40 out of 70 total seats are directly elected by the public, while special-interest groups representing a range of mostly pro-China businesses and social sectors select the other 30 legislators.

58 per cent of registered voters turned up on Sunday, up from 53 per cent in 2012, the highest turnout since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

Some student protest leaders were among those winning seats in the landmark vote. Five candidates advocating independence for Hong Kong are to sit in the 70-seat assembly.

The city-wide vote saw candidates fighting for seats in the Legco as concerns grew that China is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. 

China said that it would not tolerate any talk of independence "inside or outside" the legislature, in a statement late Monday.

"We firmly oppose any activity relating to Hong Kong independence in any form, inside or outside the Legislative Council, and firmly support the Hong Kong government to impose punishment in accordance with the law," state news agency Xinhua cited a spokesperson of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council as saying.

Hong Kong was handed back to China under “one country, two systems” deal in 1997 that protected the city’s freedom for 50 years.

As concerns grow that China is tightening its grip on Hong Kong, independence movements are on the rise, especially among young activists.

Lawmakers will take up their seats on October 1 and will have to swear an oath to uphold the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, which describes the city as part of China.

It is not yet clear what may happen if they then advocate independence as a possibility for Hong Kong in the legislature.

(WION with inputs from AFP)
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