China: Hong Kong courts have no power to rule on face mask ban


A day after Hong Kong’s High Court ruled that a ban on wearing face masks during public demonstrations was unconstitutional, China’s top legislature said Hong Kong courts have in fact no power to rule on the constitutionality of legislation under the city’s Basic Law, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday, November 19.

“Whether the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region comply with the Basic Law of Hong Kong can only be judged and decided by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,” Yan Tanwei, a spokesman for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said in a statement.

“No other authority has the right to make judgments and decisions,” the statement said.

Kong’s High Court ruled on Monday that colonial-era emergency laws, which were revived to justify the mask ban, were “incompatible with the Basic Law”, the mini-constitution under which Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.

Parliamentary spokesman Zang Tiewei said only the legislature had the right to rule on whether a law is in accordance with the Basic Law – the city’s mini-constitution.

“No other institution has the right to make judgements or decisions,” Zang said, according to a state media report posted on the National People’s Congress’ website.

He said the ruling had “severely weakened the governance” of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the city government.

Zang also indicated that the legislature might take some form of action.

“We are considering the relevant opinions and suggestions put forward by some NPC deputies,” he said, without elaborating. (Source: CNA)