Pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong experienced “historic” wins over the weekend when their candidates won nearly half of the seats on the ballot.
“So far, pro-democracy candidates have won 269 out of 452 seats in 18 district council races, while pro-Beijing forces, who previously held 73 percent of the seats, have only won 30,” Fox News reported.
Hong Kong saw a massive 71 percent of voters turn out, according to the network — this is up from 47 percent four years ago in the same elections.
The biggest loser in the elections was Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing political party, which saw more than 100 of its 182 candidates go down in defeat.
Asia analyst and foreign affairs journalist Gordon Chang called the results “historic” during a Sunday appearance on Fox News’ “America’s News HQ.”
Source: Fox News
“This is political annihilation for Beijing and it’s going to have consequences that are going to reverberate not just in Hong Kong itself, but perhaps in China as well,” said Chang.
President Donald Trump said in a “Fox & Friends” interview late last week that while he stands with Hong Kong, an impending trade deal with China remains on the table.
“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi,” said the president. “He’s a friend of mine … I stand with Hong Kong. I stand with freedom. I stand with all the things that we want to do but we also are in the process of making the largest trade deal in history.”
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Months of violent protests ravaged the city as demonstrators smashed storefronts of pro-nationalist businesses, lit toll booths on fire, shut down a major tunnel and engaged in battles with police, countering tear gas and water cannons with torrents of gasoline bombs, which resulted in more than 5,000 arrests.
Protests first erupted this past June after the government introduced an extradition bill that would send criminal suspects for trials to mainland China. That bill has now been abandoned, but the movement since expanded to include demands for democratic elections for the city’s leader and legislature, and an independent probe into alleged police brutality in suppressing the protests.
Pro-Beijing leaders said they hoped the violence would detract from the democracy cause but voting remained peaceful amid tight security at the ballot boxes and long wrap-around lines at polling stations.
It remains to be seen if the election results will pressure Hong Kong’s leader to resign or prompt Beijing to address policy demands of the pro-democracy protesters.
If not, Chang said tensions may escalate further.
“Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong chief executive, she reports directly to Xi Jinping. She no longer has any freedom of action,” he said. “If he tells her not to give ground, which is what he’s been doing for the last several months, then you’re going to see Hong Kong erupt because, you know, people have expressed their will.”
“If the political establishment doesn’t make concessions, then we don’t know where this will go,” he added. “But we know that will become probably much more violent and the protests will become even larger.”
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