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Pro-Democracy Leaders Make Gains in Hong Kong Elections
Electoral officers empty a ballot box at a vote counting center in Hong Kong, 05SEP2016. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)
This week’s snapshot focuses on the legislative elections in Hong Kong, where citizens of the special administrative zone voted for Legislative Council representatives in a holdover from the era of British rule. When pro-democracy and independence candidates made gains in the Council, China reiterated that Hong Kong is a part of China and that attempts at independence would not be tolerated. Several candidates reported attempts to coerce them into leaving the election through threats. At least one candidate alleged that the threats were sent by the Chinese government. Some in Hong Kong worry that after the 50 year agreement between China and the UK ends in 2047, the mainland will revoke their rights and bring them fully under Chinese rule.
News summary of events during the week of 05SEP16 – 12SEP16
05SEP: Beijing issued a statement that China opposes any form of independence for Hong Kong, and warned that independence would damage the city’s security and prosperity. (NYT)
05SEP: The young leaders of pro-democracy parties celebrated as early returns indicated that they would win seats. (BBC)
06SEP: Official results showed that pro-democracy candidates won 30 of 70 seats in the Legislative Council, three more than they previously held, which means they retain the power to block government attempts to enact unpopular or controversial legislation. (AP)
06SEP: Nathan Law, one of the victors in the election, stated that he is “not advocating independence, I’m advocating Hong Kong people should enjoy [their] rights of self-determination.” (BBC)
06SEP: State-run newspaper China Daily listed in an op-ed Tuesday the legal mechanisms that could be used to “keep separatists out” of the Hong Kong legislature so that it may “conduct its meetings free from being annoyed by those advocating separatism.” (TIME)
07SEP: Secondary school students pushing for Hong Kong’s breakaway from China have threatened protests after staff stopped them from handing out political pamphlets. (AFP)
08SEP: Hong Kong lawmaker, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who won a seat in recent elections said he had received “death threats” for advocating more autonomy for Hong Kong. (AFP)
08SEP: Ken Chow of the pro-business Liberal Party said he withdrew from the election after three men he believed were sent by the Chinese government threatened him. (Reuters)
09SEP: A pro-independence activist who was among six candidates disqualified to stand in the just-held legislature election in Hong Kong over their political stances filed for a petition in court, challenging the legality for his disqualification and demanding a re election. (Kyodo)
10SEP: Newly-elected Hong Kong legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said he is considering moving into the Legislative Council complex with his family to ensure their personal safety. (SCMP)
11SEP: The Financial Times reported that worsening relations between the semi-autonomous city and the mainland were deterring Chinese visitors, harming the Hong Kong economy. (FT)
11SEP: Hundreds of Hongkongers gathered in solidarity with Eddie Chu Hoi-dick outside police headquarters as the newly elected lawmaker facing death threats said the city’s leader had promised to look into a controversial public housing project. (SCMP)
11SEP: Federation of Trade Unions veteran Wong Kwok-hing blamed his Beijing-loyalist allies for spreading rumours which led to his defeat in the Legislative Council polls. (SCMP)
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the Hong Kong Elections
@natashakhanhk – Natasha Khan, Hong Kong-based Reporter, Bloomberg
@rachelblundy – Rachel Blundy, Journalist, South China Morning Post
@pdacosta – Pedro da Costa, Editorial Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics
@StephenMcDonell – Stephen McDonell, Reporter, BBC
@pnashjenkins – Nash Jenkins, Asia Journalist, TIME
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the Hong Kong elections
Zhang Baohui, Professor of Political Science, Lingnan University in Hong Kong
“This is nothing short of a strategic setback for Beijing. These people are now officially inducted into the political framework, and they are going to give Beijing a hell of a time in the future.”
“Vote in Hong Kong Deepens a Thorn in China’s Side,” NYT, 05SEP2016
Kevin Lai, Economic and Political Analyst, Daiwa Capital Markets
“The political winds of change are blowing. – The new incumbents will make the outcome of future legislative events more unpredictable.”
“Hong Kong Elections: New Faces Occupy Winners’ Circle,” WSJ, 05SEP2016
Dixon Sing, Political Analyst, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
“I think the central message is very clear. A lot of Hong Kong people want to have a political change in tactics from the more mild confrontational one adopted by the [moderate democrats] to more confrontational one adopted by these new [groups].”
“Hong Kong Elections: New Faces Occupy Winners’ Circle,” WSJ, 05SEP2016
David Zweig, Director of the Center on China’s Transnational Relations, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
“The mainland clearly has a dilemma,” “It doesn’t like the trend, but the more it pushes against it, the greater the intensification.”
“Beijing’s dilemma when it comes to Hong Kong’s election: The more it pushes against it, the stronger the opposition,” LAT, 09SEP2016
Dr. Tim Summers, Senior consulting fellow, Chatham House Asia; Professor, Centre for China Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
“Hong Kong will continue to face fundamental challenges of growing local resistance to central government and antipathy to mainland China among much of the population,”
“What next for Hong Kong?” CNBC, 09SEP2016
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the Hong Kong elections
1. Vote in Hong Kong Deepens a Thorn in China’s Side
Media: New York Times
Byline: MICHAEL FORSYTHE and ALAN WONG
Date: 05 September 2016
HONG KONG — In Canada, it is the Québécois. In Spain, the Catalans. In Britain, the Scots.
Now, China must deal with its own version of a democratically elected indigenous movement, elevated to positions of political power on Sunday in the only place in the authoritarian country where that is possible: Hong Kong.
2. Chinese repression is backfiring in Hong Kong
Media: Washington Post
Byline: Editorial Board
Date: 06 September 2016
PRESIDENT OBAMA has frequently predicted that the aggressive policies of Russia and China in places such as Ukraine and the South China Sea are destined to be self-defeating, because of the blowback they generate. It has been, at times, an all-too-convenient theory for a president reluctant to embrace robust counteraction by the United States. But an election in Hong Kong last weekend provided strong evidence that, in the case of that quasi-autonomous Chinese territory, Beijing’s growing repression and nationalism under President Xi Jinping have backfired.
Two years ago, the Communist regime touched off mass protests in Hong Kong by refusing to allow fully democratic elections for the city’s chief executive. It then refused to compromise with students and other pro-democracy activists who peacefully occupied major streets in the city for 79 days, and instead brought criminal charges against some of them.
3. Meet the Young Leaders Shaking Up Hong Kong Politics
Media: Foreign Policy Magazine
Byline: SUZANNE SATALINE
Date: 07 September 2016
In late 2014, Hong Kong protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves as police soaked them with pepper spray. Student leaders demanded elections free of intrusion from the Chinese central government, capturing headlines around the world, but their efforts failed. On Sept. 4, city residents pushed back again. Voters elected several of those young activists to the city’s legislature, a sharp rebuke to Beijing’s increasing encroachment on political life in the city.
A record 2.2 million people queued to cast ballots — hundreds reportedly waited at one polling station past two o’clock in the morning — in the financial capital’s first city-wide election since protests two years earlier.
4. Hong Kong politician says pressed by Beijing to quit city election
Byline: Venus Wu
Date: 08 September 2016
HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong politician has said he was pressured to bow out of a city election to clear the field for a candidate favored by the Chinese government, which, if confirmed, could offer rare evidence of interference by Beijing in city politics.
Hong Kong, which has a special autonomy in China, held an election for a city legislature on Sunday, its first major test of public opinion since pro-democracy protests in 2014 ignited calls for independence, especially among young voters.
5. Hong Kong election shows fight for independence is far from over
Media: Washington Post
Byline: Emily Rauhala
Date: 09 September 2016
BEIJING — In 2014, tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the streets in a defiant challenge to China. They called for full democracy, universal suffrage and the protection of their way of life.
But few spoke of independence — until now.