Asia Minute: Rough Times for Democracy and Freedom in Hong Kong

Nov 27, 2018

Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution in 2014
Credit Studio Incendo / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

A pair of elections in the Asia Pacific this weekend turned out to be big wins for candidates favored by China’s Beijing government. In Taiwan, the political party of the ruling president lost a series of mayoral races. And in Hong Kong, there was a defeat for a pro-democracy candidate.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council is moving under increased control of pro-Beijing representatives, and away from those who favor democracy. The most recent case: Sunday’s election for a council seat representing West Kowloon.

It was the latest election to fill the seats of half a dozen elected pro-democracy council members disqualified by the government for using their oath of office ceremony as a form of protest.

The results mean the pro-democracy bloc will not have enough seats to veto legislation. The pro-Beijing group can now pass any bills it wants to in the Legislative Council — although it will not be able to change Hong Kong’s City Charter — which requires a two-thirds majority.

It’s been a bad year for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong.

For the first time, the government banned a political party, a pro-democracy party, and barred several activists from running.

It also effectively expelled a senior editor for the Financial Times for hosting a speech by an advocate of independence at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

Central Government Offices in Hong Kong
Credit Wing1990hk / Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, the Congressionally-appointed U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission warned that quote, “Challenges to freedom of speech and assembly in Hong Kong continue to increase.” Adding that China has “ramped up its interference.”