China Rejects Hong Kong High Court Ruling Against Law Banning Face Masks During Anti-Government Protests

China Rejects Hong Kong High Court Ruling Against Law Banning Face Masks During Anti-Government Protests  Hong Kong Protests (Representative Image) (@Fight4HongKong/Twitter)

Chinese authorities on Tuesday (19 November) expressed their opposition to a Hong Kong High court ruling against a law banning face masks during the ongoing anti-government protests that have rocked the city since June.

Zang Tiewei, spokesperson for China's legal affairs commission, said several mainland Chinese lawmakers expressed "strong dissatisfaction" over the court's decision taken on Monday and that it could yet be overturned by the mainland Parliament, reports Efe news.

Zang said only mainland China's permanent parliamentary body can judge whether a Hong Kong law is in conformity with Hong Kong's constitution.

The Hong Kong government used the Emergency Regulations Ordinance last month - which dates back to the British colonial-era and has not been used since 1967 - to impose a ban on wearing masks during protests as a bid to quell protests.

Parliament's legal committee claimed the ban, derived from the emergency regulations, was in accordance with Basic Law, contrary to the Court's decision.

Zang denounced the decision, saying it "seriously undermined" the power of the Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her government, and that they were "studying relevant opinions and suggestions" from other parliament deputies.

City authorities also spoke on the issue through a statement by the Hong Kong and Macao state council affairs office.

The office's spokesperson Yang Guang said the anti-mask law played a positive role in the prevention of violence and disorder.

Yang said the court's ruling was "a blatant challenge to the authority of (Parliament's permanent body) and to the power vested in the Chief Executive (Lam) by law to govern".

The spokesperson added that Beijing was closely monitoring the situation, and hoped the Hong Kong government and the judiciary would perform their duties strictly in accordance with the island's Basic Law to end violence and chaos and restore order.

Earlier on Monday (18 November), the Hong Kong High Court had declared excessive and unconstitutional the British colonial-era emergency law revived by city government to ban masks in the ongoing protests.

The court said that the law, which came into effect on 5 October, goes against the Basic Law (the city's constitution)

(With inputs from IANS)