China passed legislation allowing lawmakers to be excluded immediately Hong Kong It is considered unpatriotic and dangerous to national security, in a move widely seen as heralding the end of political opposition in the city.

The measure, passed by China’s top legislature on Wednesday, bans anyone from Hong Kong’s legislature who supports independence, refuses to recognize Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, or seeks help from “foreign countries or foreign powers to interfere in regional affairs.” As well as “other actions that endanger national security.”

The decision allows Hong Kong authorities to bypass the court system to sack lawmakers – a measure that critics say will be used against opposition MPs who express opposition to Beijing’s increasing control of the semi-autonomous region.

Minutes after the legislation was announced by Chinese state media, the Hong Kong government issued a statement ruling out four pro-democracy lawmakers. Among them were Civil Society Party members Alvin Young, Kook Ka Ki, Denise Kwok and Kenneth Leung of the Professional Union.

The four deputies had already been banned from running in the legislative elections originally scheduled for September. On Monday, the 19 opposition lawmakers threatened to resign collectively if any of them were excluded.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Leung said, according to RTHK: “This is a sad day, but it is also a glorious day for all of us. Now, we are stepping down, however, there are more Hong Kong residents who have aspirations, with motivation, hope and values, who “They can succeed us. I am sure they will continue to fight for the fundamental values ​​of Hong Kong.”

Kwok Ka-Ki said, “Today there is no longer one country, two systems. Anyone who makes this decision must respond to history and every individual in Hong Kong.”

Dennis Kwok added: “If due process … the struggle for democracy and human rights has the consequences of my disqualification, it will be an honor.”

In a display of unity, 19 Democratic members of the town’s 70-seat legislature threatened to mass resign Monday if any of them were excluded. Lawmakers said they wanted to clarify how much Beijing is willing to crush opposition.

The legislation comes months after China’s legislature passed comprehensive and tough legislation National Security Act That led to dozens of arrests and An unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression In a city known for its civil liberties.

The disqualifications are likely to increase anxiety in the West about Hong Kong’s autonomy, promised under the “one country, two systems” formula when Britain delivered it to China In 1997, as Joe Biden prepares to take over the role of Donald Trump as President of the United States, he promised to promote democracy around the world.