Hong Kong lawmakers clash as pro-Beijing camp elects chair

HONG KONG (AP) – Clashes broke out in the Hong Kong legislature Monday for the second time this month, when a pro-Beijing legislator was elected chairman of a key committee that examines the laws, ending a protracted struggle for control with the countryside. pro-democracy. .

The House of Representatives Committee, which examines the bills and decides when to present them for a final vote, has been without a president for more than six months. Beijing's central government criticized pro-democracy vice president and legislator Dennis Kwok for deliberately postponing issues and causing an accumulation of bills that affect the public interest.

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Kwok was replaced on Friday by Chan Kin-por, who was appointed by the president of the legislature to preside over Monday's election. After fights and screaming disputes, prompting Chan to expel most of the pro-democracy parliamentarians, the election took place with the pro-Beijing legislator Starry Lee winning easily.

His election is likely to accelerate the passage of a controversial bill that would criminalize the abuse of the Chinese national anthem. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said last week that approving the project was a priority for the government, and the project will be presented to the committee on May 27.

At Monday's meeting, pro-democracy parliamentarians displayed signs that read "Abuse of power" and "The CCP runs over the Hong Kong legislature", referring to the Communist Party of China. In a matter of minutes, at least five parliamentarians were expelled for disorderly behavior, with at least one injured on the floor when the meeting was briefly suspended.

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"Hong Kong is marching towards the beginning of the end of & # 39; one country, two systems & # 39;", said pro-democracy parliamentarian Claudia Mo after the meeting ended.

The former British colony was returned to China in 1997 under a single country, two systems that give Hong Kong its own legal system and greater rights than on the continent.

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Mo urged the people of Hong Kong to vote for those who "don't care about Hong Kong's future" in the September legislative elections.

Pro-democracy congresswoman Tanya Chan accused Hong Kong legislature security guards of "losing her impartiality" after security guards surrounded the bank where the president was sitting and prevented pro-democracy lawmakers from approaching.

Lawmakers clashed over the same issue on May 8, when Lee occupied the chair of the president more than an hour before the meeting began, saying that an outside legal counsel had warned that she had the power to chair Committee meetings. of the Chamber.

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Pro-democracy lawmakers accused her of abusing her power and stopped, leaving Lee and the pro-Beijing camp to clear several accounts.

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