A swearing-in ceremony to kick off Hong Kong’s legislative session descended into farce as newly elected pro-democracy lawmakers intentionally mangled their oaths in a show of defiance against Beijing. They also displayed flags declaring that Hong Kong is not a part of China and called out for “democratic self-determination” for the semiautonomous Chinese city during the oath-taking session. The provocative actions foreshadow what’s expected to be a chaotic term for Hong Kong’s semi-democratic Legislative Council after a group of youthful candidates were elected in September, adding to the opposition’s numbers.
The freshman lawmakers represent some of the new wave of grassroots groups that emerged from the wake of 2014’s massive pro-democracy street protests, which failed to win concessions from Beijing but sparked a rising independence movement and a political awakening among the city’s young.
Sixtus Leung, 30, of the Youngspiration party draped a blue flag with the words “Hong Kong is not China” over his shoulders and crossed his fingers as he held a Bible while he spoke. His colleague Yau Wai-ching laid the same flag on the table in front of her when it was her turn.