China says attempts to destabilise Hong Kong will fail as pro-democracy bloc sweeps district polls as
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that any attempt to undermine the stability of Hong Kong was bound to fail. Wang Yi, who is in Tokyo after attending the G20 foreign ministers’ summit in the Japanese city of Nagoya, made these remarks following the declaration of the results of district council elections in the autonomous territory, Efe news reported.
District council elections in the former British colony were held on Sunday despite ongoing demonstrations in the city since June. The polls served as a barometer to measure citizens’ support for both the government and the protests.
Pro-democracy candidates won at least 388 of 452 district council seats after the voting that saw a record 71.2-percent turnout of voters.”Any attempt to undermine the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong will end in failure,” warned Wang after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Kyodo news agency reported.
During his meeting with Abe to discuss Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit to Japan, the Japanese leader stressed the “importance of allowing Hong Kong to flourish under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle'”.
The election results imply strong social support for groups that mobilized mass protests in Hong Kong since June while the pro-Beijing camp suffered a serious setback, being reduced to just 59 seats.
Meanwhile, China’s nationalist Global Times newspaper said Monday that it had not been a landslide win for the pro-democracy candidates as, in terms of percentage of votes, the difference was 57 per cent against 41 per cent or 1.67 million versus 1.2 million.
However, the system used in these elections is based on the simple majority: the candidate with the most votes in each constituency is the one who gets the position.
In a tweet on Sunday, Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin accused the West of “helping HK opposition in district council elections in the past week”.
The newspapers citing experts said the opposition’s victory shows that citizens were dissatisfied with the performance of the ruling party, but pointed out that the results “showed that there is still emotion within Hong Kong society, affecting rational thinking over the key issue of how the city should walk out of its current predicament”.
Pro-democracy candidates on Monday claimed a resounding victory in all Hong Kong districts, winning at least 387 of 452 district council seats.
Prominent figures of the city’s long-running protests became councillors, making it clear how the general population supported the protesters.
Jimmy Sham, co-ordinator of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised the largest demonstrations in Hong Kong’s history last June and Andrew Chin, from the Power for Democracy platform, both became councillors, Efe news reported.
Both have been attacked during Hong Kong’s protests, with Sham assaulted twice and Chin being bitten in the ear earlier this month by a man shouting pro-China slogans.
After his win in Lek Yuen district, Sham told the media that local elections were “a referendum” reflecting public opinion and its result was not a triumph for him, but for all of Hong Kong.
Sham was attacked with a baseball bat and a knife in August by two masked men, although he emerged unharmed. In October he was beaten by four people carrying hammers and wrenches, causing him head and arm injuries.
At least nine pro-democracy candidates who were victims of some form of attack during the last six months of street protests have won seats in the elections.
In the pro-China block, which had suffered a hard setback by securing only 59 seats at 9 a.m. local time, Junius Ho, widely disliked by protesters, failed to retain his seat, sparking cheers among pro-democracy movement voters.
According to his detractors, Junius — a lawyer aligned with Beijing — has links with local mafias, who indiscriminately attacked people in subway stations of tourist areas to sow chaos during protests.
Junius was also attacked in early November by a person who approached him to take a picture but instead stabbed him with a cold weapon.
Kelvin Lam, who replaced prominent activist Joshua Wong in the pro-democracy side’s leadership, also won his seat.
Wong is one of the most visible leaders of the democracy movement born in 2014 through the Umbrella Revolution and the only candidate authorities prevented from contesting the elections.
Wong said on Sunday before voting that his disqualification proved the city’s elections are manipulated by China’s Communist Party, but that he’d continue fighting for the rights to self-determination of Hong Kong people.
The large majority of pro-democracy councillors is important because it will allow larger representation in the 1,200-member committee that will elect the next head of the Hong Kong Executive in 2020, traditionally dominated by Beijing’s allies.