World News

Hong Kong Bars Democracy Advocate From Running for Legislature

Posted January 27, 2018 2:22 p.m. EST

HONG KONG — Hong Kong has disqualified a 21-year-old democracy advocate from running for the local legislature, the latest in a series of young politicians to be barred from public office over their resistance to the Chinese government’s authority over the city.

The pro-democracy party Demosisto said Saturday that election authorities had barred its candidate, Agnes Chow, from running in a March by-election, in which Hong Kong voters will decide on members of the Legislative Council.

Chow said the ruling was “no less than a declaration to the city that our political rights are handicapped.”

In a statement Saturday, Hong Kong’s government said that a legislator “cannot possibly uphold” the city’s de facto constitution, the Basic Law — which says that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China — if he or she “advocates or promotes self-determination or independence by any means.”

“Upholding the Basic Law is a basic legal duty of a legislator,” the statement read.

Maya Wang, a researcher on China for Human Rights Watch, called Chow’s disqualification “outrageous.”

“To bar anyone from running in elections purely because of their peaceful political stance is a violation of their basic human rights to stand for elections,” Wang said. “The Beijing and Hong Kong governments have redoubled efforts to undermine the already limited electoral rights people have in Hong Kong.”

Demosisto advocates that a referendum be held to determine Hong Kong’s future after 2047, the year when China’s promise to allow the city civil liberties and considerable autonomy expires.

China and the Hong Kong government have staunchly opposed any suggestion that the city, a former British colony that was handed back to China in 1997, might be allowed to decide its own future. China’s president, Xi Jinping, visiting Hong Kong in July on the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, warned against crossing the “red line” of undermining China’s sovereignty.