HK pro-democracy candidates' landslide victory rattles China

Updated: Nov 26, 2019, 13:43 IST | Agencies | Hong Kong

Democratic nominees won almost 90 per cent of 452 seats in the city's 18 district councils, bodies

Pro-democracy protesters celebrate after majority of democratic candidates won the election in Hong Kong, on Monday. Pics/AFP
Pro-democracy protesters celebrate after majority of democratic candidates won the election in Hong Kong, on Monday. Pics/AFP

Hong Kong: The pro-democracy candidates' crushing victory in community-level elections seemed to have rattled Beijing, with the foreign minister asserting China's authority on the territory yet again. The results of Sunday's elections in the semi-autonomous city have sent the Beijing-backed government a clear message of public support for the demands of a protest movement.

In a rout that stunned the semi-autonomous territory, candidates seeking to loosen control by China seized almost 90 per cent of the 452 elected seats in the city's 18 district councils, bodies that have historically been firmly in the grip of a Beijing-aligned establishment, Reuters reported.

Pro-democracy protesters celebrate after majority of democratic candidates won the election in Hong Kong, on Monday

The result, the first vote to be held since protests engulfed the city, was a humiliating rebuke to Beijing and Chief Executive Carrie Lam. China issued warnings to the pro-democracy protesters. "No matter how the situation in Hong Kong changes, it is very clear that Hong Kong is a part of Chinese territory," the Guardian quoted Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi as saying. "Any attempts to disrupt Hong Kong or undermine its stability and prosperity will not succeed," he added.

Lam vowed on Monday to "listen humbly" to voters after the pro-government nominees suffered a humiliating defeat in community-level elections that revealed broad public support for a protest movement that has stirred months of violence. She has stubbornly dismissed calls for political reform and repeatedly suggested that a silent majority supported her administration and opposed the protest movement. "Quite a few are of the view that the results reflect people's dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society," Reuters quoted her as saying.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong chief executive
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong chief executive

"The government will certainly listen humbly to citizens' opinions and reflect on them seriously," Lam said in a statement issued by the government. But she gave no specifics on the likely response.

Opponents quickly called on Lam to accede to a five-point list of demands, including direct elections for the city's legislature and leadership and a probe into alleged police brutality against demonstrators.

"The government must squarely face public opinion," said Wu Chi-wai, the chairman of the Democratic Party, Hong Kong's largest anti-establishment party. Dozens of newly elected councillors marched on Monday evening on the campus urging police to allow the small number of hardcore protesters who remain holed-up inside to leave freely.

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