Published: Tue, November 26, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

China 'resolutely' backs Hong Kong leader despite polls setback

China 'resolutely' backs Hong Kong leader despite polls setback

"The government... they have to face the fact that the majority of the Hong Kong people are supporting the five demands and they have to change the system and we must have a democratic government" he said.

The result was "nothing short of a revolution", Hong Kong political analyst Willy Lam said.

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

Beijing, which blames foreign powers for fomenting the unrest in Hong Kong, has showed no signs that it may soften its stance on the former British colony, which was returned to China in 1997.

But last Sunday's district council election in Hong Kong was transformed into a referendum on the government and its masters in Beijing, resulting in unprecedented support for the six-month-long protest movement.

So they turned out in record numbers Sunday for the only fully democratic elections in town, kicking out the pro-government and pro-Beijing forces that dominated the city's 18 district councils.

"The central government firmly supports Chief Executive Carrie Lam in governing Hong Kong according to the law, and firmly supports the police in ending violence and restoring order", said Geng Shuang, spokesperson at China's Foreign Ministry, at a regular press conference on Monday.

The election brought a respite in the unrest, as protesters focused on getting the vote out to support their cause - and not give the government a reason to postpone the vote because of the violence.

"I have not seen an election like this before, but because of the situation it is important to vote.and I know many people feel like me", said Chan, who works in sales. Pro-democracy rally organizer Jimmy Sham, who was beaten by hammer-wielding assailants last month, also triumphed, as did a pro-democracy lawmaker who had part of his ear bitten off by an assailant.

Hong Kong held its district council election on Sunday as anti-government protests continue into its sixth month with demands for an independent inquiry into police brutality, the retraction of the word "riot" to describe the rallies, and genuine universal suffrage. But the government's toxic unpopularity led them to distance themselves.

A number of pro-Beijing heavyweights including Junius Ho, whose abrasive public comments have made him a hate-figure amongst many protesters, lost to pro-democracy challengers.

The pro-democracy camp hopes weakening that grip would send a message to China and Hong Kong's unpopular leader Carrie Lam.

Pro-democracy councilor Paul Zimmerman said in a speech outside the Polytechnic University that "the people of Hong Kong have spoken".

But the resounding democratic rejection of China's plans for Hong Kong presents the autocratic president, Xi Jinping, with one of the most serious challenges to his rule since he took power in 2012, and it is far from clear if he will be willing to climb down.

"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.

But the election outcome will add new pressure on Carrie Lam.

"Don't fail Hong Kong again", he said. The number of seats held by the pro-democracy camp more than quadrupled and turnout, at 71%, was nearly double the number inthe previous polls four years ago.

Withdrawal of the extradition bill was just one of five.

But taken as a bloc across Hong Kong, with their own offices, funding and networks, some say they provide the democrats with an extra lever with which to influence policies, even as the protests rumble on.

Kelvin Lam, who stood in after activist Joshua Wong was barred from running, also scored a win. On the other hand, however, it may antagonise the central governments and only time will tell how they will respond - For sure, the United States administration is watching very closely.

"I'm voting for the first time so that the younger generation can still have freedom", said Suker So, a 35-year-old air-conditioner repairman walking out of a polling station in the suburb of Sheung Shui that was shrouded in tear gas a week earlier.

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