Pro-democracy: Hong Kongers think differently than China

Jatin Desai
Sunday, 1 December 2019

Democratic Party Chairman Wu Chi-Wai said, “This district election showed that the central government needs to face the demands of a democratic system.” He described the election as the first step in a long way to full democracy.

The District Council elections held in Hong Kong on November 24 were, in fact, a de facto referendum on the democracy and future of Hong Kong. Pro-democracy candidates comfortably won the elections by defeating pro-China candidates. This is a major setback for strong-arm China in a ‘one country, two systems’ model.

The victory of pro-democracy candidates shows that the citizens of Hong Kong aspire for a true democracy and are concerned about their future. The voters have expressed confidence on the protesters. 

The result will put pressure on the Chinese administration to negotiate with the protesters on the alleged police brutalities during the agitation.

The students and youths are at the forefront of the movement and are on the streets since July. The protest started with a simple demand of withdrawal of the controversial Extradition Bill. 

The bill was seen as an encroachment on the rights of citizens of Hong Kong. The legislation would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kongers to mainland China. 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam belatedly on September 4 declared that the government would withdraw the bill and finally it was withdrawn but it was all too late. Lam finally acknowledged that public dissatisfaction with her government fuelled a landslide win for pro-democracy forces.  

The District Council does not have much power and they only look after local issues. Traditionally, the District Council elections are low-key events but it was different this time. 

The voter turnout was huge and the voting pattern expressed the sentiments of the voters. Out of around four million registered voters, about 2.94 million voters used their voting rights.
 
Pro-democracy candidates won 388 out of 452 seats and secured majority in 17 out of 18 District Councils. 

China, through its state-owned media, requested Hong Kong voters to ‘vote to end the violence.’ 

But the voters voted differently. Their votes were against the strong-arm tactics of China. The state-owned Global Times in an opinion piece wrote that the result should not be seen as a sign of support for ‘mobs.’

The pro-democracy protesters have also been demanding the exoneration of the protesters arrested so far and also for Lam’s resignation. They are also demanding direct popular elections for the city’s leadership. The poll result is clearly against China-backed Lam.
 
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirmed that Hong Kong is part of China, no matter what happens. It also indicates that China will continue with its strong-arm tactics.
 
Democratic Party Chairman Wu Chi-Wai said, “This district election showed that the central government needs to face the demands of a democratic system.” He described the election as the first step in a long way to full democracy.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive’s election is expected to be held in 2022. The pro-democracy forces will be able to play some role in it as District Council members also form a part of the election committee for the Chief Executive. They will account for 117 of its 1,200 members.

Fresh protests in Hong Kong began in the first week of November. China had warned that they will not tolerate any challenge to their control over Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong student Alex Chow died on November 8 after suffering from head injuries. He was the first student to die during the protests. Chow was a student of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
 
Joshua Wong, a leading pro-democracy leader, said, “Today we mourn the loss of a freedom fighter in Hong Kong.”

In the last elections held four years ago, those who were favouring closer ties with China had won 65 per cent seats. This time, China never expected pro-democracy candidates to win a landslide victory. Beijing was confident that ultimately, pro-government candidates will win.
 
China’s thinking was that Hong Kongers must be tired of months of shut down, protests and violence. 

The Chinese leadership needs to realise that people want more freedom and democracy. 

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