Foreign Secretary Statement on Hong Kong elections, 25 November 2019

Foreign Secretary Statement on Hong Kong elections, 25 November 2019

"No matter how the situation in Hong Kong changes, it is very clear that Hong Kong is a part of Chinese territory", he told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Tokyo.

He added: "Any attempts to destroy Hong Kong or harm Hong Kong's stability and development can not possibly succeed".

After months of sometimes-violent unrest in Hong Kong, an election with record turnout handed a big victory to pro-democracy local district council candidates, posing a new conundrum for Beijing and adding pressure on the city's leader. With that position untenable after pro-government candidates were swept from power across the city, holding on to barely one in 10 seats on district councils, she took a more conciliatory approach.

While district council members do not wield much power, the elections allow pro-democracy candidates to select 117 of their own to sit on the 1200-member committee responsible for electing the territory's Chief Executive.

Sunday's district council elections saw the highest turnout ever, with almost 3 million people, or 71.2% of registered voters, casting their votes.

The winners included former student leaders and a candidate who replaced activist Joshua Wong, the only person barred from running in the election.

Election victor candidate Kelvin Lam, center, and pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, rear center, greet people for their support, outside South Horizons Station in Hong Kong, November 25, 2019.

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By 8am, long queues had already formed outside the city's 600 polling stations, while government data showed more than 2.94 million people had voted, putting the turnout rate at 70 per cent. On the one hand, the uptake is positive for risk sentiment as the protesters have a positive result with this, a "1-up" over the elite, so it may calm protests in the near term.

Taking to Facebook, he said: "Today's result represents (my constituency's) support to protesters". If it ignores the outcome, it is likely to face further criticism from Hong Kong citizens and the global community. "We will fight on", said Henry Sin Ho-fai, a pro-democracy candidate who won.

Celebrations broke out outside polling stations overnight when results were announced. "We hope the government can heed the protesters' demands", Roy Kwong, a member of Hong Kong's legislature who won a district council seat for the Democratic Party, was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post. On Monday, dozens of supporters gathered in a business district for a victory rally, where a woman popped a champagne bottle and poured drinks for everyone. An estimated 30 protesters, fearing arrests, are still holding out at the campus, which has been ringed by police for days.

"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.

The military has several thousand troops in Hong Kong, but deploying them is a last resort as it would revive memories of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy student protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 and bring widespread condemnation from the USA and other western powers.

"The election result 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", the nationalistic tabloid, Global Times, said in an opinion piece on Monday. It will bolster their influence, as the bloc usually has over 300 supporters on the panel but still falls short of the majority. "In the future, they should strengthen youth outreach efforts, and effectively respond to their demands, as it would bring hope to Hong Kong's future". The protests have escalated in recent weeks, with smaller groups of hard-core protesters engaging in fierce clashes with police.

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