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Fight Breaks Out In Hong Kong Parliament As Pro-Beijing Party Gains Control Of Key Position

Vivek Prakash/AFP via Getty Images

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A fight broke out in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Monday as a pro-Beijing lawmaker was elected chair of a key committee, a position that pro-democracy and pro-Beijing parties had clashed over for several weeks.

The House Committee in Hong Kong’s parliament, which decides what bills are brought to the floor for a vote, had gone six weeks without a chair as the two factions contested the seat, the Associated Press reports. Hong Kong’s parliament has typically been split between the pro-Beijing coalition, led by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and various pro-democracy parties.

This is not the first time a fight has broken out over the position. Earlier in May a brawl erupted over the issue and a pro-democracy lawmaker was dragged out of parliament by pro-Beijing lawmakers.

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After the central government in Beijing removed pro-democracy deputy chair Dennis Kwok Friday, accusing him of delaying the vote, pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin-por presided over Monday’s vote to elect the committee chair.

The fight ensued prior to the vote, and Chan removed many of the pro-democracy lawmakers from the room before starting the vote. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Starry Lee easily won and vowed to press forward with pro-China legislation, like a bill that would criminalize “abusing” the Chinese national anthem.

Monday’s incident demonstrates how China is trying to reassert political control over Hong Kong after a year of massive protests. The protests started out as opposition to an extradition bill but have evolved into a larger battle over Hong Kong’s autonomy. (RELATED: Hong Kong Ice Cream Shop Offers New ‘Tear Gas’ Flavor)

After the vote was held, pro-democracy lawmaker Claudio Mo lamented in a public statement that “Hong Kong is marching toward the beginning of the end of ‘one country, two systems’,” which refers to the policy of Hong Kong’s relative autonomy from mainland China.