China’s parliament has attacked a Hong Kong court ruling that overturned a controversial ban on wearing masks, fuelling fears that the region’s legal independence is under threat. 

It has been widely reported today that a spokesperson for the National People’s Congress (NPC) said members of its law and labour committee ‘expressed serious concern’ and ‘strong dissatisfaction’ over a High Court ruling that overturned a mask ban implemented in early October.

In a statement published by the official Xinhua news agency, the spokesman said the NPC was the only body with the authority to interpret Hong Kong law.

He said: ‘No other organ has the right to make such a judgment or decision. Some NPC deputies expressed strong dissatisfaction. The legislative affairs commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress expresses deep concern.’

The mask ban was passed after Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, exercised emergency powers to bypass the region’s Legislative Council. It prohibited people wearing masks at public assemblies. However, a decision handed down by the High Court yesterday overturned the ban.

Hundreds of protesters remain barricaded inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University today, as the pro-democracy protests continue to escalate.

Last week a protester was shot at close range by a police officer, in the third shooting since demonstrations began this summer.