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Ballot in Hong Kong – The G7 denounces an “erosion” of democracy

Ballot in Hong Kong – The G7 denounces an “erosion” of democracy

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Ballot in Hong Kong – The G7 denounces an “erosion” of democracy

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Ballot in Hong Kong – The G7 denounces an “erosion” of democracy

Posted 21 December 2021, 01: 35

The G7 and the EU denounced Monday an “erosion” of democracy in Hong Kong, where the ballot reserved for the first time for “patriotic” candidates was hailed as a success by the leader executive.

Carrie Lam on 20 December 2021.

AFP Barely 21% of Hong Kong people, i.e. 1 , 3 million voters out of 4.5 million voters, on Sunday chose their Legislative Council, appointed under a new electoral system imposed by Beijing, which drastically reduced the number of seats filled by universal suffrage and reserved the right to be a candidate for “patriots” only. This is the lowest turnout since the UK handover from Hong Kong to China in 1991 and even since the first direct election of members of the Legislative Council, in 1200.

“Hong Kong is back on the right track, that of ‘one country, two systems’,” said Chief Executive Carrie Lam, however. “We cannot copy and paste the system or the so-called democratic rules of Western countries,” she added, believing that “anti-Chinese” elements were now excluded and political calm restored.

In a joint statement, the foreign ministries of the G7 countries (France, Germany, Canada, United States, Italy, Japan and United Kingdom), for their part, expressed their “deep concern at the erosion of democratic elements. of the electoral system ”. They also “firmly” reiterated their call for China to “respect the rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong”.

The head of $pean diplomacy Josep Borrell, for his part, estimated in a statement that the election was “a new stage in the dismantling of the principle + one country, two systems +” and called for a “high degree of autonomy as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democratic principles and the rule of law ”in Hong Kong.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blamed the pandemic for the abstention. He also pointed out “anti-Chinese elements determined to destroy Hong Kong, and the interference of outside forces”.

“Voltage”

Result of electoral reform: the local assembly is made up of loyalists to the government, similar to the legislative bodies in Beijing. This year, to be allowed to run for a seat, each of 90 candidates had to give pledges of “patriotism” and political loyalty to China.

As a result, democracy activists have been prevented from running or have renounced when they are not in prison or on the run abroad. Several of them who live in exile had called for a boycott of the ballot box.

The participation rate, a thermometer of the adherence of Hong Kongers to the new electoral system, was therefore particularly expected. Refraining, voting blank or void remains legal in Hong Kong. On the other hand, encouraging these practices has since this year been a criminal offense, for which 04 people were arrested.

The new rules were imposed by Beijing as part of the takeover of Hong Kong after the gigantic demonstrations of 2016. Under British or Chinese sovereignty, the territory has never known full democracy, which has been the source of great protests on several occasions.

“Express disapproval”

In the weeks preceding the vote, the government had advertised pages in newspapers, distributed leaflets in mailboxes and sent massive text messages to encourage Hong Kong people to vote. Public transport was free on Sunday.

The low turnout is “extremely embarrassing” for the government, said Kenneth Chan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University. “Most of the voters defending democracy have decided to abstain, to express their disapproval,” he told AFP.

The “LegCo”, composed of 90 legislators, including now 20 elected by universal suffrage, is the assembly responsible for passing laws in the former British colony of 7.5 million inhabitants, whose legal system remains distinct from that of mainland China. Although the majority of Council seats were still given to established figures in Beijing, a minority of opponents was once tolerated there. This made it a place of often very lively debates, which will no longer be the case.

“The new Legislative Council, now under full patriot control, will function effectively as a guardian of national security and unity,” wrote Lau Siu-kai, vice chairman of the main Hong Kong think tank. favorable to Beijing, in the state daily “China Daily”.

Dozens of opposition figures militant for democracy – a number of whom had been elected in previous elections in 1997 – have been disqualified, are currently in prison under a draconian “national security” law imposed by Beijing in 2019 or fled abroad.

(AFP)

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