The Hong Kong government has disqualified Joshua Wong and 11 other pro-democracy candidates from running in the September 6 elections to the city’s Legislative Council.

The BBC said the city’s government had determined that the would-be legislators were unfit to be candidates. When the government announced the decision on July 30, it warned that it may disqualify more candidates, according to the BBC and the Associated Press (AP).

The Basic Law of Hong Kong

The government said the disqualifications were carried out in accordance with Hong Kong's Basic Law which serves as the constitution of the former British colony, the BBC noted.

The AP quoted one of the disqualified candidates, incumbent legislator Dennis Kwok, as saying that the disqualifications had been politically motivated. Kwok was one of four members of the pro-democracy Civic party to be disqualified, the BBC noted.

The government said candidates were not loyal to the Basic Law if they strove for the independence of Hong Kong, if they openly disagreed with the new national security law or if they sought foreign involvement in Hong Kong's affairs, the BBC said. Candidates were also considered disloyal if they had the intention of voting against government measures "indiscriminately" until the government gave in on particular demands, the BBC added.

Banned Candidates Address Hong Kong

Some disqualified candidates went to social media to make their reactions known to the public. A few, such as Wong and Cheng Tat-Hung, posted their official rejection notices.

The AP quoted from one of Joshua Wong’s Facebook posts in which he said his disqualification reflected the Chinese national government’s “total disregard for the will of the Hongkongers.” Wong was also quoted as accusing the government of mainland China of destroying "the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy."

Hong Kong and the National Security Law

Chris Patten, the last colonial governor of Hong Kong, was quoted by the BBC as saying a "political purge" of the sort only found in a "police state" was taking place in the city.

Patten also claimed the new national security law was now enabling the government to rob people of their vote, the BBC said. Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy activist, also criticized the national security law which was being used retroactively to prosecute young people who had organized a pro-independence group and then resolved it before the law took effect on June 30.

The BBC noted that the disqualification of young, confrontational candidates had been expected because similar disqualifications had occurred in 2016. The barring of candidates from the Civic Party came as a rude shock because that party is thought to be "a more moderate wing of the democratic movement," the BBC said.