All Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers have resigned after Beijing forced the removal of four of their colleagues.
On Wednesday Beijing passed a resolution allowing the city’s government to dismiss politicians deemed a threat to national security.
Shortly afterwards the opposition lawmakers said they would leave the city legislature in solidarity.
For the first time since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 the body has almost no dissenting voices.
BBC China correspondent Stephen McDonnell says the legislature was already stacked in favour of the pro-Beijing camp.
The dismissal of the four legislators is viewed by many as the latest attempt by China to restrict Hong Kong’s freedoms – something Beijing denies.Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai told reporters following the lawmakers’ removal: “We can no longer tell the world that we still have ‘one country, two systems’, this declares its official death.”
Hong Kong – formerly a British colony – was returned to China under the “one country, two systems” principle, which allowed it to retain more rights and freedoms than the mainland until 2047.
But in late June China passed a controversial, far-reaching national security law in the territory after years of pro-democracy and anti-Beijing protests, which reduced Hong Kong’s autonomy and made it easier to punish demonstrators.
Why did the lawmakers resign?
The city’s pro-democracy legislators had 19 seats in the 70-seat legislature. All those members have now left – either by resigning or by being dismissed.
The new resolution passed by China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Wednesday says that lawmakers should be disqualified if they support Hong Kong independence, refuse to acknowledge China’s sovereignty, ask foreign forces to interfere in the city’s affairs or in other ways threaten national security.