China is warning the recent vote by pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong to choose candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections there may have violated the new national security law imposed on the financial hub.
More than 600,000 Hong Kongers flocked to some 250 polling stations to cast ballots to select the strongest pro-democracy candidates to contest pro-Beijing candidates in September’s Legislative Council elections, defying earlier warnings from Erick Tsang Kwok-Wai, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, that the vote might run afoul of the national security law.
A statement issued Monday by the Liaison Office, which represents the mainland Chinese government in Hong Kong, called the primary vote “a serious provocation to the current electoral system.” The statement also criticized the efforts of the vote’s organizers, specifically longtime pro-democracy activist Benny Tai, as an attempt “to seize the power of governance in Hong Kong and stage the Hong Kong version of a ‘color revolution.’”
The term is used to describe popular protest movements around the world that have swept a government from power.
Pro-democracy forces say the goal of fronting candidates for the September elections is to achieve a parliamentary majority that could block passage of the budget and other key legislation, and thereby force the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Under the new security law, anyone in Hong Kong believed to be carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces could be tried and face life in prison if convicted. The new law was a response to the massive and often violent pro-democracy demonstrations that engulfed the financial hub in the latter half of last year.
Western governments and human rights advocates say the measure effectively ends the “One Country, Two Systems” policy under which Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy after the handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.