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'Hong Kong is not China': Rebel legislators take to floor of Hong Kong legislature

Sydney Morning Herald - October 13, 2016

Philip Wen, Beijing Hong Kong's newly-elected breed of pro-democracy legislators have used the legislature's opening session to stage symbolic protests, unfurling banners and distorting parliamentary oaths in open defiance of Beijing.

Localists Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus "Baggio" Leung were ordered to return to their seats after displaying banners reading "Hong Kong is not China" and appearing to insert expletives and insults while deliberately mispronouncing the country's name.

The pair is among six young pro-democracy political newcomers voted into office at last month's fiercely-contested legislative council elections. Reflecting the city's hardening divide over creeping Communist Party influence and posing a headache both for Beijing and Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying the vote saw a significant swell in support for radical newcomers advocating for greater autonomy or even independence from China, especially among Hong Kong's younger demographic.

As members of the 70-member legislative council were sworn in one by one, a succession of independence-leaning or pro-democracy legislators baulked at delivering the parliamentary oath, which pledges to uphold Hong Kong's de facto constitution, the Basic Law, which recognises the special administrative region as an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China.

Choosing to deliver the oath in English, the 25-year-old Ms Yau first altered the wording to say she would "bear true allegiance to the Hong Kong nation". Told she had to repeat the oath in its correct wording, she then said she would bear allegiance to "the Hong Kong special administrative region of the People's Re-f***ing of 'Chee-na'".

Leung, 30, draped a blue banner reading "Hong Kong is not China" around his shoulders and prominently crossed his fingers as he delivered his oath, also appearing to deliberately mispronounce 'China' as 'Chee-na'. The term, a derogatory wartime reference used by the Japanese, has been co-opted for use in Chinese internet slang.

Other politicians tore up prop copies of Hong Kong's Basic Law, while another pro-democracy legislator, Lau Siu-lai, protested by reading her oath in slow motion, taking more than 10 minutes to complete the 77-word pledge.

Nathan Law, a student protest leader of Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution in 2014 and the youngest-elected legislator at 23, quoted Mahatma Gandhi as he drew parallels with the forced legislative council oath as another extension of Communist Party's authoritarian regime.

"You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body. But you will never imprison my mind," he said.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/hong-kong-is-not-china-rebel-legislators-take-to-floor-of-hong-kong-legislature-20161013-gs129h.html.

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