Beijing bars Hong Kong politicians from taking office

Sixtus Baggio Leung, left, and Yau Wai-ching, right, march during a protest in Hong Kong on Sunday. They have been barred from taking their seats in Hong Kong's legislature.

Story highlights

  • Ruling comes after protests on Sunday
  • Beijing uses rarely invoked power

Hong Kong (CNN)China has barred two recently elected lawmakers from taking office in Hong Kong's legislature in an explosive ruling likely to fan fears about Beijing's growing influence over the city.

Critics -- including protesters who poured onto the city's streets Sunday -- say the decision undermines Hong Kong's own legal system and further erodes promises of autonomy made before the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
    The two lawmakers, Sixtus "Baggio" Leung and Yau Wai-ching, had their oaths of allegiance rejected after inserting curse words and waving a flag bearing the words "Hong Kong is not China."
    China's top ruling body, invoking a rarely used power, said Monday that anyone who refuses to read the oath should be disqualified from holding office.
    "Reading the vows in any dishonest, ungraceful manner is also a refusal to the oath, and it shall be void," the ruling said, according to state news agency Xinhua.
    Leung and Yau were among several young politicians elected in a September vote that attracted record turnout, who favor greater autonomy or even independence for Hong Kong.
    Their right to retake their oaths is also being challenged by the Hong Kong government in local courts.
    Hong Kong's leader, CY Leung, said Monday that he would implement Beijing's decision.
    Three other young pro-democracy lawmakers, elected at the same time as Yau and Leung, accused Beijing of "exploiting the controversy surrounding (the oaths) to trample on the Hong Kong legal system and the political rights of the people of Hong Kong."
    Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, "no longer protects the democratic rights of Hong Kongers," Nathan Law, Lau Siu Lai and Eddie Chu said in a joint statement.