HONG KONG — A court in Hong Kong ruled on Tuesday that two pro-independence politicians who inserted an anti-China snub into their oaths of office could not take their seats in the city’s legislature, effectively ending a case in which Beijing had taken extraordinary steps to influence politics in Hong Kong.
A judge in the High Court said that Yau Wai-ching, 25, and Sixtus Leung, 30, had “contravened” the territory’s charter and a local law, declaring vacant their seats on the semiautonomous city’s Legislative Council, to which they were elected in September. China’s central government handed down an edict last week that effectively barred them from the council.
Ms. Yau and Mr. Leung, who advocate the city’s independence from China, altered the words of the oath during their swearing-in last month, pledging allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation.” They also displayed a flag in the council’s chambers that bore the words “Hong Kong is not China” and used a term for China that many consider a slur. Their oaths were rejected, prompting the case.
The young politicians’ act of rebellion enraged Beijing. China has ruled Hong Kong, a former British colony, since 1997, under the condition that the city be given a high degree of autonomy for 50 years, including having an independent court system and the right to elect its own legislature.