Two newly elected pro-democracy lawmakers defied an order Wednesday barring them from taking their oaths after being disqualified earlier for insulting China, sparking more unruly scenes in Hong Kong’s legislature. After Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung of the Youngspiration party entered the Legislative Council’s main chamber, the body’s president ordered them to leave, but the two refused. Half a dozen other pro-democracy lawmakers surrounded them at their desks to block security guards trying to remove them. After half an hour, the session was adjourned until next week.
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At a swearing-in ceremony two weeks ago, Yau, 25, and Leung, 30, modified their oaths in an act of defiance by using a derogatory word for China. Yau also slipped in an expletive. The two were part of a new wave of youthful pro-democracy lawmakers elected in September amid a rising tide of anti-China sentiment, with many Hong Kong residents concerned about Beijing eroding the city’s wide autonomy.
The legislature’s president has barred Yau and Leung from taking their oaths until a court rules next month on a legal challenge filed by Hong Kong’s government, which wants to stop them from taking office. Yau criticized council President Andrew Leung on Wednesday, telling reporters that he used “a reason without any legal base” to prevent the pair from being sworn in.
Outside the legislature, thousands of pro-Beijing supporters rallied, waving Chinese flags and carrying placards denouncing Yau and Sixtus Leung as traitors. Last week’s session ended abruptly when the council’s contingent of pro-Beijing lawmakers sparked chaos by walking out of the chamber moments before Yau and Leung were set to retake their oaths, depriving the session of a quorum.