Wednesday 13 November 2019

Hong Kong democracy activist barred from election

Joshua Wong says the move is proof of interference from Beijing.

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, who has been barred from contesting local council elections next month (Michael Sohn/AP)
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, who has been barred from contesting local council elections next month (Michael Sohn/AP)

By TrevorM2

Hong Kong authorities have barred high-profile pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong from standing in an election, a move he says proves interference from Beijing.

The decision came as the city’s leader Carrie Lam ruled out political solutions before the end of the violent protests gripping the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The protests have been running for more than four months, also prompting Ms Lam on Tuesday to say the prosperous semi-autonomous region was in danger of falling into an economic recession.

A returning officer notified Mr Wong his nomination as a candidate in next month’s elections was ruled invalid, according to a copy of the letter Mr Wong posted on his Twitter account .

The government confirmed his disqualification, without identifying him.

It indicated the problem was related to a candidate advocating “self-determination” for Hong Kong, which it said conflicts with the requirement for candidates to declare they’ll pledge allegiance to the city and uphold its constitution.

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam at a press conference on Tuesday, where she said the city was at risk of falling into economic recession due to ongoing protests (Vincent Yu/AP)

Mr Wong, 23, became known as the young face of Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement” that peacefully occupied streets for 79 days in 2014, and he has since been repeatedly arrested and jailed.

He has been less important to the current protest movement, which has been leaderless and whose participants have sought to remain anonymous.

His activities have nonetheless made him a target of China’s communist leaders, who have used him to accuse foreign powers of colluding with anti-China separatists to foment unrest.

Mr Wong said on Twitter that being barred proves Beijing is manipulating the election through political censorship and screening.

He and other pro-democracy activists were disqualified from running in previous elections. But the others have reportedly been approved for the November 24 local district council elections, making him the only one to be banned.

The disqualification came as Ms Lam ruled out finding a political resolution before ending protest violence.

“For the government to resort to measures that will appease the violent rioters, I don’t think that is the solution,” she told reporters.

“Until and unless we tackle the violence and put an end to it, it is very difficult to continue the political dialogue we have done.”

Ms Lam said the city was at risk of falling into recession as it enters its fifth month of protests, which have punished the city’s tourism and retail industries.

“If this quarter’s growth rate, compared to the second quarter’s growth rate, is negative, it will be the second decline in a row. Then it can be said that we have entered a technical recession,” she said, adding that the economy could end up contracting for the year as a whole.

PA Media

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