China raises criticism as Hong Kong chief urges calm


China Tuesday lambasted decision of Hong Kong High Court to rule mask ban was unconstitutional, saying such issues were not in the jurisdiction of the court.

Voicing “dissatisfaction,” the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) said the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong together form the “constitutional basis of the special administrative region”.

Carrie Lam administration had imposed a harsh mask ban on Oct. 5 after protesters hid their identity. Many people were charged and detained for defying the ban.

But the High Court on Monday in a 106-page ruling said ban imposed by the government was incompatible with Basic Law, the city’s mini constitution.

Hong Kong or Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is an autonomous region under China since 1998. It is witnessing protests since early June against the Carrie Lam administration’s move to legalize extradition to mainland China.

“Whether a law of the HKSAR is in conformity with the Basic Law of the HKSAR can only be judged and decided by the NPC Standing Committee, and no other organ has the right to judge or decide,” Zang Tiewei, a committee spokesperson told Xinhua news agency.

The protests have for months left the city reeling, with international financial observers having cut the economic progress of the business hub.

The government has already dumped the bill, but protests continue, as the protesters are demanding prosecution of Hong Kong police for violence.

The ongoing protests in the region have triggered tensions with universities cancelling semester classes and international students fleeing to their homes.

Early today, Lam in a live-streamed news conference appealed for calm and called for end to violence which has engulfed Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the last several days.

She said around 600 people — dozens of whom are under 18 years old — had left the university campus.

The university has been a main hub of protests for a week now with students trying to mobilize more support to disrupt the routine life. But the police raid on campus since Sunday has paralyzed any such plan.

Meanwhile, a senior member of Lam’s Cabinet said district council elections scheduled for coming Sunday may be delayed.

“The District Council elections scheduled to take place on Sunday may be delayed if violent clashes continue across Hong Kong,” Hong Kong Free Press quoted Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip, as having said.
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