11 December 2023 - Yesterday in Hong Kong, “elections” were held across all 18 Hong Kong District Councils. Any independent or pro-democracy candidates were shut out from stranding in the “patriots” only election, where candidates were vetted for their political views, emphasising the complete turnaround in Hong Kong's freedoms and rights.
A turnout rate of just 27.54% in 2023, compared with the high of 71.2% in 2019 shows that Hong Kong is not a free city, no matter how much money is spent on PR and promotional campaigns.
In the last free district elections in 2019, there were over 400 seats up for grabs, and those from the democracy leaning parties won most seats with an overwhelming majority. This time, only 88 seats were available. The remaining councillors were handpicked by the Hong Kong authorities, who in turn are given their instructions from Beijing.
The low turnout can be viewed as a referendum or a vote of no confidence in Chief Executive John Lee and his government. Hong Kongers are clearly rejecting the current system. Over 10,000 police were deployed to ensure order at polling stations while at least six people were arrested for calling on others not to vote.
The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) calls on the British Government to stop normalising relations with Hong Kong at a time when Beijing is showing just how it intendeds to function after tearing up the Sino-British Joint Declaration and also, while the Hong Kong authorities continue to hold a British citizen, Jimmy Lai, in jail on trumped up charges. The British Government should sanction John Lee and bar him from entering the UK and upgrade its warnings to British business wishing to invest in Hong Kong.
Chloe Cheung, Communications Assistant at the CFHK Foundation said:
“The low turnout shows that Hong Kongers reject these sham elections. What’s the point of holding elections when all the choices are the same, people picked by Beijing? Hong Kong is no longer a free society where people can choose and we have to stop pretending that it is.”