Elections for Hong Kong’s legislative council have come and gone, and the newly elected lawmakers for this Special Administrative Region of China – a collection of young and spirited activists advocating greater democracy – seem to come out of Beijing’s worst nightmare.
BBC reports that the recently concluded election saw a record high voter turnout of 58% and resulted in the election of new faces to the LegCo that are calling for greater autonomy from what is perceived to be increasing Chinese and Communist encroachment into Hong Kong’s day to day affairs.
They will have an uphill battle to fight considering that the majority of the legislature’s 70 seats are still occupied by staunch pro-Beijing supporters.
Nevertheless, the gains by pro-democracy young guns were impressive in the eyes of 23-year old Nathan Law, himself a new LegCo member after the polls. Back in 2014 Law led the famous “Umbrella Protests” that called for Hong Kong’s right to determine its own future political status, and brought international attention to greater China’s designs on its SAR, a former British crown colony. He saw his victory and those of like-minded politicians as a sure sign of Hong Kong residents’ wish for change.
Despite a delay in the count that was cause for concern (it was actually caused by the massive swell of voters at the polls), full results of the elections are due to be released later on Monday September 5. Beijing has yet to react to the polls, with the G20 Summit in Hangzhou.
Hong Kong’s new legislators were mostly veterans of the 2014 protests that requested greater democratic freedoms, accusing Beijing of slowly and systematically removing certain rights and liberties from the HK-SAR, in violation of the “one country, two systems” agreement forged between China and the UK prior to the 1997 colony handover. Beijing refuted the allegations and instead began cracking down on the “Umbrella” protestors, causing the movement to lose steam and peter out. That is, until now.
Nathan Law’s Demosisto party won the second-highest votes for the Hong Kong LegCo on a platform of self-determination, in particular the chance for HK-SAR to choose what will happen to its governmental and economic systems in the year 2047, when the “one country, two systems” will elapse and transition the territory full in line with the policies of the rest of China. He attributes their success to young people who turned out to vote, saying they have a sense of urgency for what will happen in the years to come.
These pro-democracy lawmakers, Law says, have to present a united front against the Communist Party of China and their majority legislators still in LegCo. These Beijing supporters have vowed to dissuade the new radical members from indefinitely maintaining Hong Kong’s separate system, or the “unrealistic dream” of independence from China.
Photo Credit to kanjoo.com