November 16, 2016 1:35 am JST

Hong Kong court backs disqualification of 'localist' lawmakers

YASUO IWAI, Nikkei staff writer

HONG KONG -- Siding with China's parliament, the High Court here has ruled that two newly elected lawmakers strident in their defense of the territory's autonomy should lose their seats in the local legislature.

Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung had no intention of upholding their oath of office, the judge in Tuesday's ruling argued, calling this conclusion "objectively" clear.

The ruling went on to say that the court would reach the same conclusion even without the legal interpretation by the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress.

By-elections for the vacated Legislative Council seats are expected to move forward.

Yau denounced the judgment, telling reporters that the court had stripped her of her duly elected office. She added that she would weigh her next move.

Hong Kong legislators are required to swear allegiance to the territory's Basic Law, which serves as its constitution and affirms that Hong Kong is part of China. Yau and Leung, elected as candidates of the "localist" Youngspiration party, deviated from the text of the oath by using a derogatory term for China.

In its interpretation of the Basic Law last week, the Standing Committee of China's legislature concluded that lawmakers who intentionally misread the oath are disqualified from holding office.

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