The dream is dying….
China’s top legislative body is interfering with Hong Kong’s judicial independence by intervening in a politically charged court case, Human Rights Watch said today.
On November 4, 2016, the chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), Zhang Dejiang,announced that the committee will issue an interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s functional constitution. The Basic Law sets parameters for NPCSC interpretations of its provisions. This interpretation, which has not been requested by Hong Kong authorities, is expected to dictate the ruling of Hong Kong courts in an ongoing case involving two pro-independence members of the Legislative Council – possibly disqualifying them from office.
“Beijing’s intervention in this case may cause long-term damage to Hong Kong’s judicial independence,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “A highly politicized ‘interpretation’ by Chinese authorities would deepen fears that Hong Kong’s promised autonomy is under attack.”
Hong Kong’s political opposition won a majority 19 out of 35 seats in the city’s legislative election on Sunday, September 4 — a significant victory that allows them to hold onto their veto power against the pro-China establishment.
Marginalised by Hong Kong’s undemocratic political system, in which half of the 70 Legislative Council seats are elected by “functional constituencies” — business, professional, religious or specific social groups — the ability to veto proposed laws in the legislature is the last resort for the opposition to exercise their political influence.
This power has become especially important in recent years as Beijing has tried to tighten its grip on the city. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, and that status is supposed to mean a high degree of autonomy.