Hong Kong Favors Democracy, Spurns Beijing in Landslide Vote

News: World News
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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  November 26, 2019   

Elections show widespread discontent with current administration

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HONG KONG (ChurchMilitant.com) - In district elections on Sunday, Hong Kongers turned out in droves and voted overwhelmingly for pro-democracy candidates — a rebuke to the political establishment's coziness with communist authorities in mainland China.

The election saw the highest voter turnout in Hong Kong's history. About 2.9 million out of 4 million electors — more than 70% — came out to the polls Sunday.

Seventeen of the 18 local councils in Hong Kong are now controlled by pro-democracy lawmakers, who won 80% of the seats contended in the election.

In the leadup to Sunday's vote, the pro-Beijing camp claimed there was a "silent majority" in Hong Kong that opposed the protests and sided with the regime. But the election results undermined that narrative, showing wide support for democratic reforms in Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong has seen massive protests for months now, initially spurred by an extradition bill that would have allowed shipping some individuals to mainland China for prosecution.

David Zweig, director of Transnational China Consulting and professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, commented on the results of Sunday's election, "This is a sweeping victory, far beyond people's expectations. And it demonstrates once again Hong Kong people's consistent — I'd say 15-year or even 20-year — fight to establish a greater democracy here in Hong Kong."

"The people have really expressed themselves and taken some power," he added.

The local council seats have little impact on major policy matters for Hong Kong, but the overwhelming victory for pro-democracy forces is a sign of how popular opinion has turned against Hong Kong's political establishment.

While the vote "can be just ignored by Beijing," Zweig opined, the people of Hong Kong have shown they will resist communist officials.

This is a sweeping victory, far beyond people's expectations.

Though most candidates for Sunday's elections ran on neighborhood-specific issues like improving the parking situation or protecting greenspace, there were some who openly endorsed the "five demands" of the protesters in Hong Kong:

  1. Abandon the extradition bill. (This demand has been met.)
  2. Investigate allegations of police brutality.
  3. Retract statements that slammed a June 12 protest as a "riot."
  4. Grant amnesty to arrested protesters.
  5. Have Carrie Lam resign as chief executive, and turn the position into an elected one. (Currently, the chief executive is chosen by a 1,200-person committee. Protesters want a popular vote instead of the committee.)

Protesters have signified the five demands by putting a hand in the air and extending all five fingers.

The pro-democracy protests will most likely continue until the government addresses their five demands.

The election came on the heels of clashes between protesters and police at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Besieged by police, protesters were trapped in the university for days on end. Some sneaked past police, others were caught and arrested and still others chose to turn themselves in.

In an extensive six-hour search throughout campus on Tuesday, university staffers said they found only one protester remaining.

 

China Daily, an English-language newspaper owned by the Chinese government, accused pro-democracy opposition forces in Hong Kong of disrupting the election. The publication said on Twitter that "the pan-democracy camp" stole identification cards from people on their way to vote and intentionally held up lines to make it harder for elderly citizens.

Some Twitter users countered with claims that pro-communist campaigners handed out bribes and misleading cards to people entering voting stations.

When unpopular pro-Beijing politician Junius Ho Kwan-yiu lost his re-election bid, a pro-democracy crowd cheered, danced and even popped champagne bottles to celebrate.

Ho endorsed a zero-tolerance policy toward the anti-communist protesters and has been accused of being connected to the criminal thugs who indsicriminately attacked protesters and commuters at a train station back in July.

Audrey Eu, a pro-democracy Hong Kong politician and chairwoman of the Civic Party, told Bloomberg, "Now the ball is in the government's court, and they really have to respond."

She went on to say, "The government at least have to say that they are listening."

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