Accessibility links

Breaking News

Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Opposition Loses Ground in Election

A supporter carrying photos of pro-democracy candidate Edward Yu walks past a supporter of Vincent Cheng from Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, March 11, 2018.

Hong Kong pro-democracy candidates won two of the four seats contested in Sunday's by-election for the city's semi-democratic legislature.

The election was held to replace four lawmakers who were ousted last year after inserting protests into their oaths of office that the Chinese government deemed improper. Two other seats remain open.

Monday's final results leaves the pro-democracy side just short of being able to wield some veto power in the 70-seat legislature, effectively security Beijing's power.

Voter turnout in the semiautonomous region was 43 percent.

Pro-democracy candidate Agnes Chow, who had hoped to replace disqualified lawmaker and activist Nathan Law, was barred from running at the last minute because she advocated for Hong Kongers to determine their own future.

"This election is not just a normal election; it is a battle between the pro-Beijing camp and the pro-democracy camp," Chow said, adding that it was an important choice for the people of Hong Kong between "rule of law or rule by the Communist Party."

Little-known activist Au-Nok-hin, a neighborhood councilor, won after being enlisted to replace Chow to run against pro-Beijing rival Judy Chan in the vote's main battleground.

The vote came as China's National People’s Congress voted to abolish constitutional term limits, leaving democracy supporters in Hong Kong more worried about diminishing autonomy under the potentially indefinite rule of Xi Jinping.

In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China from British colonial rule under a "one country, two systems" formula which allowed Hong Kong a certain level of autonomy. But tensions have increased in the past two decades, periodically seeing activists pushing in vain for independence from Beijing.