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Ottawa and its allies denounce the conditions of the poll held in Hong Kong

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Since the handover [de Hong Kong à la Chine, en 1997, NDLR], candidates with diverse political views stood for election in Hong Kong. Yesterday’s elections reversed this trend, write the foreign chiefs of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Overhauling Hong Kong’s electoral system […] reduced the number of directly elected seats and introduced a new verification process to significantly restrict the choice of candidates on the ballot. These changes eliminated any significant political opposition.

A quote from Extract from the joint declaration of the allies

Under a new Chinese law, only 20 of the 90 seats in the LegCo have been awarded this year by universal suffrage, up from 35 previously. The other 70 seats are occupied by lawmakers appointed by pro-Beijing bodies, which immediately guarantees them the majority of this camp.

Two women stand in front of a wall lined with posters of candidates for the Legislative Council.

Two women wait in front of a poster of candidates vying for a seat on the Hong Kong Legislative Council.

Photo: Getty Images / Anthony Kwan

Even more strikingly, Beijing has reserved the right to be a candidate only for those who have given pledges of patriotism and political loyalty to China. The decision immediately eliminated all candidates from the Democratic camp, who had been tolerated in LegCo so far, and transformed de facto the election in the pre-approved candidate selection process.

one country, two systems, supposed to guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and independent justice. In theory, this must be respected until 2047.

Carrie Lam, in front of a wall on which we can read the word “Together” or “Ensemble”, in French.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam at a press conference Monday morning.

Photo: The Canadian Press / AP / Vincent Yu

According to Ottawa and its allies, the national security law decreed in June 2020 by Beijing with the aim of putting an end to the gigantic protests of the pro-democracy camp in 2019 has negative repercussions on these fundamental freedoms which are felt throughout civil society.

Non-governmental organizations, unions and human rights organizations that do not support the government’s agenda have been forced to disband or leave, while press freedom is kept to a minimum, they underline in their joint statement.

Historically low participation rate

The selection process for LegCo was finally marked by a very strong abstention. Only 30.2% of Hong Kongers – or 1.35 of the 4.5 million registered voters – deigned to stand at the polls, a historically low level of participation. In the previous election, in 2016, the turnout was 58.3%.

At a press conference on Monday, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam defended the process and downplayed the heavy abstention. Hong Kong is back on track, that of one country, two systems, she argued.

We cannot copy and paste the so-called democratic system or rules of Western countries, she added, believing that the elements antichinese – the qualifier used to denigrate the supporters of the Democratic camp – were now excluded and political calm restored.

1.35 million voters voted. They did not just choose the candidates of their choice for LegCo. I believe it was also support for the improved electoral system.

A quote from Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong

Before the ballot, Ms Lam had said that a low turnout was not wouldn’t mean anything. When the government does it right and its credibility is strong, voter turnout is lower because people don’t really feel the need to choose new representatives., she told Chinese state media.

About twenty people are standing or seated behind a table for a press conference.  All are masked.

Members of the Democratic Alliance for the Improvement and Advancement of the Hong Kong candidate, a pro-Beijing party, addressed reporters on Monday morning. In the center, with a pink sweater, their president, Starry Lee.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / PETER PARKS

An elected pro-Beijing candidate, Starry Lee, for her part considered that this turnout was expected, since it is a new system and that people need to get used to.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian explained the abstention by the pandemic as well as anti-Chinese elements determined to destroy Hong Kong and [par] interference from outside forces.

Ms. Lam is due to fly to Beijing on Monday to meet with Chinese leaders, with the backdrop of whether she will run for a second term in March and whether the Communist power will support her.

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