China 'resolutely' backs Hong Kong leader despite polls setback

Tuesday, 26 Nov, 2019

The result of Sunday's district council elections could not have been clearer.

The pro-democracy camp only secured around 100 seats at the previous polls four years ago. More than 5,000 people have been arrested in the unrest that contributed to Hong Kong's first recession in a decade.

Pro-democracy district council candidate Jimmy Sham (R) talks with British politician David Alton (L) at a public housing estate during district council elections in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong on November 24, 2019.

Hong Kong held its district council election on Sunday as anti-government protests continue into its sixth month with demands for an independent inquiry into police brutality, the retraction of the word "riot" to describe the rallies, and genuine universal suffrage. This is nearly double the turnout figure for the last district elections four years ago.

"This is historic. As our city plummets from being semi-autonomous to semi-authoritarian, we react by showing what's democracy in action", Wong tweeted.

In 2015, pro-Beijing parties won just over 54percent of the vote and 298 of the 452 seats to take control of all 18 district councils. "[Election results show] Hong Kong people are very disappointed at the government's performance".

"Former secretary for transport and housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said Beijing would have to rethink its approach to ending the mayhem in the city as the pro-establishment camp got a drubbing".

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam said in a statement she respected the result and that her government "will listen to the views of the public with an open mind and with serious reflection", without offering specifics. The pro-Beijing figure has been admonished for using sexual innuendos to attack female critics, and he's also lobbed death threats at a rival candidate.

The turmoil started in June over a now-abandoned extradition bill that many viewed as a sign of creeping Chinese control over Hong Kong, but protesters have since expanded their demands.

Wang was in Tokyo for a G20 foreign ministers' meeting and was responding to questions from journalists on the results of the Hong Kong elections.

But it does not mean Beijing - which blames foreign powers for fomenting the unrest in the former British colony, which was returned to China in 1997 - will budge on the demonstrators' demands, he added. "If I was Carrie Lam, I should prepare for the speech of my resignation", pro-democracy activist and legislator Leung Kwok-hung said.

District councils are organizations at the district level that advise the HKSAR government on matters affecting the well-being of the residents and participate in the management of district affairs. Earlier this month, pro-democracy protesters hurled gasoline bombs and police used tear gas and water cannons during a standoff at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus. They also serve as an important grassroots platform to radiate political influence in the Chinese-ruled city.

"There has been a political awakening that has made people more aware of what the government is doing", she said. "We don't have the right to vote for our chief executive, but we have this".

Pro-democracy protesters take over Hong Kong airport as part of their earlier protests.

They can't directly select the city's leader and elect only half the legislature.

Well-known pro-democracy advocate Alexandra "Grandma" Wong, who was detained in the city of Shenzhen over the border from Hong Kong in August, said this was "the day that we are longing for". The 39-year-old man, who asked to be identified only by his last name, Chan, said he has never seen such lines in an election, including in Britain.

"A combination of police tactics and the [subway and rail network's] tendency to close numerous stations during protest events has made it extremely hard to hold any large-scale peaceful protests", he said.

"This is only the beginning of the battle", he said while expressing appreciation for the young generation for their support.

"Don't fail Hong Kong again".

The independents accounted for 45 seats but a lot of them align with the pro-democracy movement.