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Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong barred from election

October 29, 2019

The Hong Kong Electoral Affairs Commission said Joshua Wong's nomination was found to be "invalid." The 23-year-old activist said he was the only candidate who was barred from running.

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong
Image: picture-alliance/AP/K. Cheung

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said on Tuesday that he had been disqualified from running in Hong Kong's district council elections. The vote is set to take place in November.

Hong Kong's Electoral Affairs Commission said his nomination was found to be "invalid," and the government separately said Wong did not meet the requirements of electoral laws.

The government issued a statement saying the nomination of a candidate, whom it did not identify, was ruled invalid. It indicated the problem related to the candidate advocating "self-determination" for Hong Kong, which it said conflicts with the requirement for candidates to declare they will pledge allegiance to the city and uphold its constitution. 

Wong was at the forefront of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement and has been outspoken over the course of the territory's monthslong protests against the government this year.

Read more: Macau: Is Hong Kong's neighbor China's 'poster child'?

The 23-year-old activist said he was the only candidate to be barred from participating in the election. Wong and other pro-democracy activists had been disqualified from running in previous elections. "It proved how Beijing manipulate the election with political censorship and screening," Wong wrote on Twitter.

Mass protests

Wong is currently free on bail after being charged with inciting and participating in an unauthorized assembly outside police headquarters on June 21.

Hong Kong has been rocked by mass demonstrations over the past several months. The unrest was triggered by proposed extradition legislation that would have allowed Hong Kongers on trial to be extradited to places including mainland China.

A demonstrator holding an umbrella throws a tear gas canister back at police
Hong Kong has been rocked by mass demonstrations over the past several monthsImage: Reuters/K. Kyung-Hoon

The protests, which forced the Hong Kong government to withdraw the bill, have since morphed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms in the Chinese special administrative region. 

The anti-government protesters are angry about what they see as creeping Chinese interference in Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula intended to guarantee freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland.

In more than three months of unrest, the protesters have attacked the legislature and Beijing's main Liaison Office, occupied the airport, thrown petrol bombs at police, vandalized metro stations and set fires on the streets.

'Very supportive'

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has ruled out finding a political resolution before ending protest violence. She has also warned that the city is at risk of falling into a recession as the protests hit sectors like tourism and retail particularly hard.

Furthermore, Lam denied what she called "rumors" of Beijing's alleged plan to replace her by March 2020, saying that China's central government has been "very supportive" of her attempts to calm the situation in the special administrative region. 

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a news conference
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has ruled out finding a political resolution before ending protest violenceImage: Reuters/U. Bektas

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Lam called a report by the Financial Times detailing the alleged replacement plan "very malicious" and "maybe politically driven speculation."

The British newspaper, citing anonymous sources, reported last week that the Chinese leadership wanted to appoint an "interim" chief executive for Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong elections heat up

sri,jcg/stb (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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