The Hong Kong government on Wednesday disqualified four opposition lawmakers in the legislature's pro-democracy camp.
According to the Legislative Council Ordinance, candidates for LegCo elections are required to sign a declaration in accordance with the statutory nominating procedure, clearly stating that they will uphold the HKSAR Basic Law and honor their pledge of allegiance to the HKSAR.
The United States has imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials in Hong Kong over the implementation of the new national security law and their alleged role in crushing political opposition in the former British colony.
"We are doing our job to protect and safeguard Hong Kong's security and national security".
It has also warned that worldwide financial institutions could also be sanctioned for doing business with individuals it says are responsible for carrying out Beijing's crackdown in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's legislature passes the territory's laws, but only half of its 70 members are directly elected - and a complex appointment system ensures the city's pro-Beijing establishment is all but guaranteed a handsome majority.
Unconfirmed reports have said that China's National People's Congress Standing Committee was preparing to disqualify four legislators at a meeting this week, accusing them of filibustering meetings and violating their oaths of office.
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Since the handover from Britain almost a quarter century ago, pro-democracy candidates in Legco have been crowded out by indirectly-elected members loyal to Beijing.
The other two included allowing Hong Kong residents who meet certain conditions to be exempted from the 14-day mandatory proposal on their return from Guangdong Province or Macau, and implementing the bilateral Air Travel Bubble with Singapore.
The 19 lawmakers from the opposition camp said Monday that they would move to resign in a show of defiance if any pro-democracy legislators were disqualified.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that the directive was passed in response to a request made by Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam herself.
Wang, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, reiterated Beijing's reasoning in his comments to reporters, saying the central government had been forced to step in at a time when Hong Kong's security was under serious threat.
Lam said that her government will seek Legislative Council approval to incorporate the NPCSC's decision into local legislation and the council's oath-taking requirements.
Samuel Chu, a leader of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, an activist organization based in Washington, D.C., tells NPR that after Beijing passed the national security measure outlawing most dissent, Hong Kong's institutions have been slowly neutered.