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BEIJING – The Latest on China's intervention in a Hong Kong political dispute (all times local):
A top Chinese legislative panel's ruling on an article in Hong Kong's mini-constitution says individuals are barred from assuming office if they fail to "lawfully and validly" take their oaths.
The ruling — described as an "interpretation" of Hong Kong's Basic Law — says an oath-taker shall be treated as declining to take their oath if he or she "intentionally reads out words which do not accord with the wording of the oath prescribed by law" or "is not sincere or not solemn."
At their swearing-in ceremony last month, two recently elected Hong Kong lawmakers, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, altered their oaths to insert a disparaging Japanese term for China.
Displaying a flag reading "Hong Kong is not China," they vowed to defend the "Hong Kong nation."
A Chinese spokesman of the top legislative panel that has moved to bar two democratically elected separatist lawmakers from taking office in Hong Kong says the central government will not be weak in the face of advocates for independence for Hong Kong.
Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, told reporters at a briefing in Beijing: "The center's attitude is absolute. There will be no leniency."
Li warned against politicians advocating for Hong Kong's independence from the mainland, saying that in future young people should better understand the central government's requirements for governing the former British colony.
Li says public officials' oaths are "solemn" and that oaths that do not conform to legal requirements cannot be taken again.
China's top legislature has adopted an interpretation of an article in Hong Kong's mini-constitution on oath-taking, effectively intervening in a political dispute in the southern Chinese city despite protests there on Sunday.
The dispute centers on a provocative display of anti-China sentiment by two newly elected pro-independence Hong Kong lawmakers at their swearing-in ceremony last month.
In issuing the interpretation, the National People's Congress Standing Committee said talk of independence for Hong Kong is intended to "divide the country" and severely harms the country's unity, territorial sovereignty and national security.
The interpretation says that those who advocate for independence for Hong Kong are not only disqualified from election and from assuming posts as lawmakers but should also be investigated for their legal obligations.