Chinese lawmakers met Saturday to decide on how to deal with the legislative vacuum left by postponing Hong Kong elections.
The Legislative Council elections scheduled for September 6 have been postponed for a year due the coronavirus pandemic.
The top decision-making body of China’s parliament convened a four-day session Saturday to discuss whether to extend the term of the current Hong Kong legislature — which will expire on September 30 — or to appoint a new “transitional body” to govern the semi-autonomous territory.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has said it would be pragmatic to extend the term of the current legislature.
But this throws up another thorny issue — whether to extend the terms of four opposition lawmakers who have been barred from seeking re-election.
Election officials have disqualified the four pro-democracy legislators, saying their calls for foreign governments to impose sanctions on Beijing and Hong Kong had violated the new national security law.
“Anyone who advocates Hong Kong independence with actual participation in illegal actions like rioting, we should not let them serve for another term,” pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho said on Wednesday.
China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee is expected to decide on the fate of the lawmakers.
Critics say the sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing is eroding political freedoms in the Asian financial hub.
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on a group of Chinese and Hong Kong officials, including city leader Lam, involved in enforcing the law.