Thursday, September 1, 2016

Free China? Hong Kong votes


Elections this weekend for the semi-democratic Legislative Council (Legco) have become a quasi-referendum over the territory’s future. Since China decreed in 2014 that it would approve candidates to be the next chief executive, who was supposed to be elected in 2017 under universal suffrage, the territory has been convulsed. Many feel the mainland authorities’ promises of autonomy for the former British colony have been torn up. A “localism” movement has emerged, supported by growing numbers of young people, which seeks real autonomy—or even independence—crossing a red line in Beijing. The election commission demanded Legco candidates swear loyalty to the Chinese government and disqualified candidates who refused, or whose oaths it did not believe. How Hong Kongers see themselves has changed profoundly. China’s Communists say the solution is “patriotic” education. Lines are hardening in Hong Kong, where the current, Communist-friendly chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, remains loathed by nearly everyone.

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