Tensions flared at Hong Kong’s legislature Wednesday as pro-Beijing lawmakers prevented a pair of newly elected representatives advocating independence for the Chinese region from getting a second chance at taking their oaths. Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching of the radical activist Youngspiration party were among five lawmakers expected to redo their swearing-in so they can take office. They were part of a new wave of activist candidates who were elected last month amid a rising tide of anti-China sentiment in semiautonomous Hong kong. However, after two others recited their oaths properly, the pro-Beijing lawmakers staged a walkout, depriving the chamber of the quorum needed to continue. They blasted Leung and Yau apologize for being disrespectful and insulting China and demanded they apologize. The council’s president adjourned the meeting after 15 minutes because there were not enough members to continue.
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At the legislature’s opening session a week ago, the duo and two other pro-democracy lawmakers modified their oaths, which call for lawmakers to pledge allegiance to the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.” Leung, 30, and Yau, 25, had mispronounced China as Shina, an archaic Japanese term for the country that’s seen as derogatory. Leung crossed his fingers while taking the oath while Yau combined “republic” with a curse word.
They were getting a second chance after the top court rejected an unprecedented last-minute legal challenge from the government Tuesday evening. Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed top leader and justice chief had sought to bar the pair from taking their oaths again.