Twelve pro-democracy candidates have been disqualified from running in Hong Kong’s upcoming Legislative Council election, including prominent activist Joshua Wong.
Candidates announced their official disqualification on their respective Facebook pages, posting letters of notification from the government.
Wong, a 23 year-old Hong Kong activist, received the largest number of votes in an unofficial election primary, with 30,000 ballots.
“Clearly, Beijing shows a total disregard for the will of the Hong Kongers, tramples upon the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy, and attempts to keep Hong Kong’s legislature under its firm grip,” Wong wrote on Twitter in response to the disqualification.
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 ???? (@joshuawongcf) July 30, 2020
A government spokesperson confirmed that a dozen candidates had been disqualified. An official statement released expressed adamant support for “the decision of returning officers to invalidate 12 nominees for this year’s Legislative Council General Election.”
The period for nominating candidates ends this Friday, leaving the pro-democracy camp little time to regroup after the elimination of so many candidates.
The Hong Kong government said the rationale for elimination was past behavior that indicated candidates would be unable to “genuinely uphold the basic law” or “perform the duties of a LegCo (Legislative Council) member.”
Similar explanations have been used frequently to disqualify winning LegCo candidates in previous years prior to the actual election, such as with pro-democracy activist Nathan Law.
Moderate pro-democrats, like lawyer Dennis Kwok, were also eliminated.
“When the national security law was passed, I said One Country, Two Systems is finished,” said Kwok during a press conference held after his disqualification. “I think today we’re seeing the result of the relentless oppression that this regime is starting.”
Many candidates have voiced their concerns over the potential for the national security law to be used to silence and eliminate pro-democracy proponents in Hong Kong.
China’s sweeping new law took effect on July 1, immediately after passage from China’s central government. It punishes secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, and colluding with foreign countries and external elements, with a maximum penalty of life in prison.
International governments have vocally condemned the national security law. After over half a million Hong Kong residents voted in pro-democracy election primaries, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed the United States’ support. An official statement emphasized that the United States would “be watching developments [of the Hong Kong elections] closely.” As U.S. foreign policy has shifted in regard to the Chinese Communist Party, Hong Kong’s civil rights have become a center of international monitoring.
Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, responded to the disqualifications through Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based organization that monitors Hong Kong freedoms.
“This is an outrageous political purge of Hong Kong’s democrats,” Patten said. “The national security law is being used to disenfranchise the majority of Hong Kong’s citizens.”
An official statement from the Hong Kong government said it did not “rule out the possibility that more nominations would be invalidated.”
The statement declared a range of activities that invalidate candidates, including promoting Hong Kong independence, supporting self-determination, soliciting support from foreign governments, opposition to China’s national security law, or voting against legislation in the council for political reasons.
From The Epoch Times