Beijing officials praise loyalty oaths by Hong Kong civil servants, despite wave of resignations

Beijing officials praise loyalty oaths by Hong Kong civil servants despite wave of resignations

The completion of an oath-taking exercise, in which Hong Kong’s 170,000 civil servants pledged loyalty to the city’s pro-Beijing administration, deserved praise as a “milestone”, Beijing officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs said on Monday.

The mainland’s Hong Kong and Macao Office said it was glad that the civil servants had recently signed a declaration or taken an oath pledging loyalty to the Hong Kong government.

In January, the Hong Kong government required all civil servants to pledge allegiance, a move that critics said was aimed at taming them, noting the record number of resignations by government employees.

Amid the tightening grip, a total of 1,860 civil servants resigned last year, a record high in the past 23 years.

But the office said the oaths and declarations deserved praise as they signified the civil service’s willingness to abide by the city’s constitutional order.

It added that civil servants must truly embrace the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution laying down the political system, as well as be loyal to China and Hong Kong and support the city’s government under the chief executive’s leadership.

The office said Hong Kong’s civil service contained a small number of “anti-China” elements who had supported, tolerated or taken part in the 2019 pro-democracy protests. Their behavior amounted to confronting China’s top authorities and must not be tolerated, the office said.

Last week, pro-Beijing lawmakers passed a proposal to also require elected district councilors to take a similar oath. The office said this marked the establishment of a loyalty system for public officers.

As for the many resignations by civil servants, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip told a Legislative Council on Monday that employees had resigned for reasons including family, health and job offers from the private sector.

Slightly more than half of them resigned during their three-year probation periods, a scenario Nip described as normal.

Last year also saw the departure of 5.21% of administration officers, an elite team of civil servants responsible for assisting in policy formulation, a record high for the past 10 years, Nip said. Twenty-one of the administration officers resigned, 12 retired and one was repositioned in the government, he said.

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