#Oathgate: Hong Kong’s 2016 Political Firestorm

On Oct. 12, 2016, Hong Kong’s 6th Legislative Council met for the first time after a landmark election in September, in which young, pro-democracy forces made historic gains. The September election was the first general election of the city-wide legislature since the Umbrella Movement protests in late 2014.

Members of the legislature have to take an oath of office, during which they have to pledge allegiance to the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China,” as Hong Kong is officially known after the change of sovereignty in 1997.

The botched oaths of two pro-independence lawmakers, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, triggered a weeks-long political controversy: Oathgate, as I dubbed it in this Oct. 18 tweet.

The duo were stripped of their seats in November, after China decided to intervene in the matter directly — news of which triggered a massive protest that turned violent, the night before the actual decision was announced.

The following is a full list of stories I wrote for TIME tracking the controversy.

  1. Loyalist Walkout Prevents Swearing-In of Pro-Independence Hong Kong Lawmakers (Oct. 19)
  2. Pro-Independence Hong Kong Lawmakers Won’t Be Allowed to Take Office Until Court Rules (Oct. 25)
  3. Hong Kong: Separatist Lawmakers Defy Banning Order and Loyalist Crowds (Oct. 26)
  4. Chaos Again at Hong Kong’s Legislature as Chinese Intervention Said to Loom Large (Nov. 2)
  5. Court in Hong Kong Hears Case Against Two Pro-Independence Lawmakers (Nov. 3)
  6. China Will Intervene in the Case of Hong Kong’s Pro-Independence Lawmakers (Nov. 4)
  7. Hong Kong Fears For Rule of Law After China Effectively Bars Separatist Legislators (Nov. 9, for Fortune.com)
  8. China Targets More Liberal Hong Kong Lawmakers in Widening Crackdown (Nov. 10)
  9. Hong Kong’s Separatist Lawmakers Have Lost a Legal Appeal to Keep Their Seats (Nov. 30)

On July 14, 2017, four more lawmakers — Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law, Leung Kwok Hung (a.k.a “Long Hair”) and Edward Yiu — were ejected from LegCo as a result of a separate court case, also brought by the executive branch, in a manner similar to the Leung/Yau case. My story:

Four More Hong Kong Lawmakers Ousted In a Blow to Democratic Hopes (July 14, 2017)


Apart from Oathgate, 2017 has also been a significant year in Hong Kong politics.

The Chief Executive election on March 26 took up much of the first quarter. I closely followed the campaign for TIME and contributed reporting to both TIME’s pre-election profile of candidate John Tsang and post-election analysis of Carrie Lam’s victory.

This was followed by a visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Hong Kong in late June, as the territory marked the 20th anniversary of its transfer of sovereignty. I was there for TIME every step of the way, from the moment Xi stepped onto the tarmac until the inauguration of Carrie Lam on July 1.