Hong Kong's high court on Friday removed four opposition lawmakers from the city's legislative assembly after it invalidated their oaths of office.
Last year, Hong Kong lawmakers Nathan Law, Lau Siu-lai, Leung Kwok-hung and Edward Yiu added words to their oaths to reflect their frustrations with Chinese authorities.
The decision was given based on the Basic Law which was issued by Hong Kong's mini-constitution by Beijing.
The interpretation requires lawmakers to repeatedly describe Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of China.
The High Court said the interpretation was "binding" on all Hong Kong courts and that its decision to bar the four was not politically motivated.
The former British colony, Hong Kong became a Chinese territory 20 years ago under a "one country, two systems" arrangement that guaranteed a wide range of freedoms not enjoyed in China, including a direct vote for half of the 70-seat legislature.
According to activists the city government's effort in disqualifying democratically elected lawmakers is a direct assault on those freedoms.
The four legislators dismissed on Friday were not staunchly pro-independence but two of them have advocated self-determination for Hong Kong.
Beijing's interpretation of the constitution last November was prompted by a string of protests during the swearing in of lawmakers following citywide elections.