Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong poses for the press while holding a candidacy statement as he announces his intention to run in the Hong Kong Legislative Council general election on July 20, 2020.
Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images
The United Kingdom has condemned Hong Kong’s decision to disqualify candidates for democracy from the upcoming legislative council elections. Other critics around the world have also raised concerns about future polls.
He comes as authorities announced on Thursday that at least 12 pro-democracy candidates, including high-profile activist Joshua Wong, have been disqualified from running in Hong Kong’s upcoming election. The Hong Kong government does not “rule out the possibility” that more nominees will be disqualified, he said.
The current lawmakers, Dennis Kwok and Alvin Yeung, as well as Lester Shum, a student leader in the so-called Umbrella Movement, were also not barred from running as candidates in the legislative council elections.
Hong Kong is a separate administrative region of China and a former British colony that has a separate legal and economic system from mainland China, and limited voting rights.
The Hong Kong government said the 12 potential candidates were disqualified because their nominations “did not comply with the requirements under the Legislative Council Order”.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab slammed the move.
“I condemn the decision to disqualify opposition candidates from standing in the Hong Kong Legislative Council elections,” Raab said in a statement Thursday. “It is clear that they have been disqualified because of their political views, undermining the integrity of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is governed by a “one country, two systems” policy. This framework gives the territory a largely separate economic and legal system, and allows those living there limited voting rights.
The next election will be the first in Hong Kong since the entry into force of the national security law. Chinese officials said the law is intended to prohibit secession, the overthrow of state power, terrorist activities and foreign interference.
But critics worry it could undermine the “One Country, Two Systems” principle guaranteed under a treaty signed by the UK and China before the transfer of Hong Kong sovereignty, and meant to remain in place. until 2047.
Nominations for the elections close on Friday. The vote is set to take place in early September, though media reports suggest it may be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance for China – a coalition of lawmakers from various countries including Australia, Canada and Japan – said the obstacles were “unacceptable”.
“The decision to disqualify Democratic candidates and the planned delay in the September Legislative Council elections present unacceptable obstacles to the democratic process in Hong Kong and raise further concerns about the erosion of rights and freedoms in the city,” they said in a statement. .
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Hong Kong to proceed with the election as planned.
“They must be held. The people of Hong Kong deserve to have their voice represented by the elected officials they elect in those elections,” Pompeo said on a radio program, according to an official transcript.
More than 600,000 citizens in mid-July showed support for the new candidates in an unofficial primary, according to Reuters.
At a news conference on Friday, pro-democracy activist Wong said: “Beijing has staged a number of acts to prevent the opposition from blocking the majority in the Hong Kong legislature.”
“My ban on running (in) elections will not stop our cause for democracy, although the government may soon declare illegal democratic aspirations under the new law,” he added.
On Thursday, he wrote on Twitter that Beijing is showing “complete disrespect” for what Hong Kong citizens want and is destroying “the last pillar of the city that is losing autonomy.”