Hong Kong: Joshua Wong among pro-democracy candidates banned from standing in elections

Prominent activist says he was disqualified for calling new national security law ‘draconian’

Kate Ng
Thursday 30 July 2020 11:00 BST
UK scraps extradition treaty with Hong Kong over China's crackdown in territory

Hong Kong has banned a dozen pro-democracy candidates from standing in upcoming elections, including activist Joshua Wong, in a move that critics say “tramples upon the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy”.

Mr Wong said on Thursday he had been disqualified from standing in the city’s key legislature elections in September for describing the new national security law as “draconian”.

The government confirmed that it had barred 12 candidates for behaviours including “expressing an objection in principle” to China’s new law, and that more bans could follow.

“A few minutes ago, I was just disqualified from running in the upcoming LegCo election in Hong Kong, even though I got the highest vote share in the primary, with 30,000+ votes obtained,” Mr Wong wrote in a statement on Twitter.

“The excuse they use is that I describe [the] national security law as a draconian law, which shows that I do not support this sweeping law.

“Despite 610,000 Hongkongers voting in HK’s primary, Beijing now stages the biggest-ever crackdowns on the city’s election, by disqualifying nearly all pro-democracy runners, from young progressive groups to traditional moderate parties,” he wrote.

“Clearly, Beijing shows a total disregard for the will of the Hongkongers, tramples upon the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy and attempts to keep HK’s legislature under its firm grip.”

The national security law, passed by Beijing a month ago, represented the biggest shift in Hong Kong’s autonomous status since Britain returned the city to China in 1997.

The legislation gives Beijing new powers to ban secessionist activity and allows it to set up a national security office in Hong Kong for the first time.

Dominic Raab is expected to make a statement in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon (AFP via Getty Images)

Its passing sparked anger and panic, with hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers taking part in protests.

The United Nations also voiced concerns that it could lead to activists being prosecuted in violation of fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression.

A government document sent to Mr Wong and seen by The Independent explained that although he had resigned from pro-democracy political organisation Demosisto, the authorities were not satisfied that Mr Wong would cease pursuing his activism in a personal capacity.

Demosisto advocated for a referendum to determine Hong Kong’s sovereignty and aimed to obtain autonomy for the city, but it was disbanded on 30 June after the national security law was passed.

The document said: “Candidate [Wong] will continue to pursue the political agenda and objectives of Demosisto in his personal capacity, including ‘democratic self-determination’.”

Others who were disqualified from running include pro-democracy activist Tiffany Yuen, also from Demosisto, as well as incumbent lawmaker Dennis Kwok and three others from the pro-democracy Civic Party.

Other nominations were still being reviewed, the government said in a statement expressing support for the disqualifications.

“We do not rule out the possibility that more nominations would be invalidated,” it said.

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