On 16 December, senior Hong Kong civil servants swore an oath of allegiance to the Hong Kong government in a highly publicized closed-door ceremony overseen by Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Divided into two socially-distanced battalions, 12 undersecretaries and 14 political assistants sang the Chinese national anthem before reciting the oath in Cantonese. Under the new National Security Law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in June 2020, all 177,000 public servants in Hong Kong are obliged to either swear oaths or sign declaration forms pledging allegiance, depending on the civil servant’s level of seniority. Refusal to undertake these performative gestures contravenes the new legislation and may result in termination of employment.
The oath-swearing requirement for public servants accords with Beijing’s declared intentions to clamp-down on political dissent in the city - especially within the ranks of the civil service - by ensuring that "patriots govern Hong Kong." Chinese state-run media has deemed the oath-swearing ceremony as a "legally-binding pledge made by public officeholders", asserting that "there is nothing inappropriate or untoward in asking [civil servants] to take an oath".
Narrator: "Under the Basic Law, public servants of the HKSAR Government are required to be loyal, to perform their duties faithfully, and to be accountable to the HKSAR Government. The Undersecretaries and Political Assistants are politically appointed officials who are required to comply with the decisions of the HKSAR Government, and they assume collective responsibility for doing so. As key members of the SAR's governance team, the Undersecretaries and Political Assistants are required to uphold the Basic Law and be loyal to the HKSAR.
"A spokesman for the HKSAR Government said that the oath to uphold the Basic Law and the pledge of allegiance to the HKSAR by the Undersecretaries and Political Assistants, and their solemn commitment to their responsibilities will demonstrate to the community that they are loyal and committed to the Basic Law and the HKSAR. This will enhance the public's confidence in politically appointed officials, and is of great significance.
"Apart from politically appointed officials, the Civil Service Bureau of the HKSAR Government has issued a circular order in October of this year requiring all civil servants joining the HKSAR Government on or after July 1, 2020 to take an oath or sign a declaration as part of their terms of appointment. The Civil Service Bureau will soon announce the detailed arrangements for requiring currently serving civil servants to sign declarations. The oathtaking ceremony for permanent secretaries and department heads will be held on December 18."
 Chinadaily.com.cn/a/202007/01/WS5efbd6f5a310834817256495.html, July 1, 2020.