Free Elections for Hong Kong

Civil Human Rights Front Gather For July 1st Marches - Getty

For The Weekly StandardEllen Bork reports: Over half a million people filled the streets of Hong Kong on July 1, marching for democracy on the anniversary of the British colony’s handover to Chinese Communist rule in 1997.

On June 29, an unofficial referendum organized by democracy activists concluded with 800,000 votes cast—more than one-tenth of Hong Kong’s population. The overwhelming majority supported a democratic election for Hong Kong’s next chief executive.

“The Obama administration’s response to the massive display of support for democracy has been more appropriate to a teenager shrugging ‘whatever’ than a major power expressing itself on a central pillar of the president’s Asia policy.”

Beijing has promised that in 2017, the Hong Kong chief executive will be popularly elected. Hoping to tamp down expectations of an actual democratic election with a competitive nomination process, however, Beijing issued a white paper on June 10 that identified “loving the country” as the “basic political requirement” for civil servants, including the chief executive. For Beijing, “love” means loyalty to the Communist party, disdain for civil liberties undergirded by the rule of law, and hostility to democracy.

The people of Hong Kong were not persuaded, and the massive turnout for the referendum and march delivered a huge setback to Beijing.Currently, Hong Kong’s top official is chosen from among Beijing-approved candidates by a committee of 1,200 people, mostly allies of Beijing. Marchers on July 1 ridiculed this arrangement, holding up signs bearing the number “689,” the number of votes won by the incumbent, Leung Chun-ying.

The international community is more easily intimidated. Foreign leaders have been mostly silent. One welcome exception is Lord Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, who objected to the notion that Hong Kong’s judges should knuckle under to Beijing…(read more)

The Weekly Standard

2 Comments on “Free Elections for Hong Kong”

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