The Special Administrative Region of China (SAR), Hong Kong, has a partially autonomous political and legal system, including a limited form of democracy that has developed since its inception under British colonial rule.
The city’s opposition has long criticized those boundaries and the government’s failure to continue the transition to full democracy and sparked mass protest movements.
Of course, there is a lot to solve here.
Among the victims is activist Joshua Wong, 2014. The leader of the Umbrella movement, and other former student protesters, as well as key candidates from democracy propaganda parties and several moderate current lawmakers, including Dennis Kwok and Alvin Yeung.
Although candidates have not been allowed to run in the past and some have even been removed as soon as they have been elected, a large number of candidates have been banned this week, and the broad justification for doing so calls into question the possibility of significant resistance in the European Union. Hong Kong.
The upcoming elections, scheduled for September 6, will be the first since the entry into force of a new national security law that will penalize segregation, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.
This law already had a severe cooling off and could stop the city’s protest movement on its tracks. The government is likely to receive criticism from the legislature.
Although decisions to ban 12 lawmakers were made by returning officials in various constituencies – low-level bureaucrats – both the Hong Kong and Chinese governments quickly issued statements in support of the move.
Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s de facto constitution, future legislators must swear to “uphold” the constitution, a declaration that has been largely procedural in the past.
However, citing the 2016 In a court case banning candidates for independence, the government said in a statement that the promise to “uphold the Basic Law” means not only its observance but also its intention to uphold, promote and adopt it. ”
The government also provided examples of behavior that would result in disqualification, including a statement in favor of Hong Kong’s independence or self-determination, or a “call for intervention by foreign governments or political authorities.”
While such behavior is tolerated in many democracies – both the British and Canadian parliaments have openly secluded parties – all are newly illegal under Hong Kong security laws.
But other examples are much more in line with what it means be opposition politicians, including an “expressive intention” to “unconditionally (vote) reject any (government) legislative proposals, appointments, funding applications, and budgets to force the government to comply with certain political requirements.”
It seems to be a response to the plan of some individuals in the pro-democracy camp, if they win a legislative majority, to reject leader Carrie Lam’s budget, forcing the constitutional crisis and its possible resignation.
Candidates should also not be prevented from expressing a “fundamental objection” to the adoption of a security law. And while the government has promised the law will not be retroactive, several returning officials have banned candidates as a reason to oppose the law before it is passed, which could lead to even more disqualifications, given that virtually the entire pro-democracy movement was united in opposing the law.
Free and fair?
In a statement supporting the disqualification of candidates this week and alluding further, the government said it was “not subject to any political censorship, restriction of freedom of expression or disenfranchisement, as some members of the community claim”.
“The (Hong Kong) Government respects and protects the legitimate rights of the people of Hong Kong, including the right to vote and to stand for election. It must also implement and uphold the Basic Law and ensure that all elections take place in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant electoral laws,” he added. he.
However, both inside and outside the city, including British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the lawsuit was immediately called into question, including a statement alleging that the candidates had been “disqualified for their political views”.
“This move undermines the integrity of the ‘one country, two systems’ and the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law,” Raab added, referring to a system that guaranteed the city’s autonomy until 2047 under international law.
Human rights groups, current legislators, political parties and other foreign governments have also criticized the move. Amnesty International said it showed “its intention to punish peaceful criticism and support for opposing views.”
While the election itself is currently questioning the coronavirus – there is a suggestion that it could be postponed to next year – if it takes place further, it is unlikely to include many of the most popular or prominent pro-democracy activists. number in the city, and in total perhaps several serious opposition candidates.
2014 Beijing has put forward a proposal on how Hong Kong could choose its leader. Unlike the current system, where a small committee elects a chief executive, the Chinese government has said all Hong Kongers will vote, but Beijing will control who stands.