Hong Kong disqualifies a dozen pro-democracy candidates from running for office

Domestic News

Today, a dozen pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from Legislative Council elections in Hong Kong. The government made clear that dissent to the national security law that Beijing imposed on July 1 is now a disqualifying condition.

members of the hong kong civic party holds a news conference surrounded by reporters
Hong Kong Civic Party members Gordon Lam, Jeremy Tam, Kwok Ka-ki, Alvin Yeung, Alan Leong, Dennis Kwok, Tat Cheng and Tanya Chan attend a news conference after several of their members get disqualified from running for office in the city. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

The Hong Kong government is continuing its strict enforcement of the national security law that Beijing imposed on the territory on July 1. Already this week, two publicly funded universities got rid of faculty with links to protests on July 27 and 28, and four young pro-independence activists were arrested on July 29.

Today, the South China Morning Post reports:

Hong Kong’s opposition camp has suffered a stunning blow, with at least 12 members, including veteran and moderate politicians, barred from running in the Legislative Council elections, while the government has warned that more may be disqualified.

Those disqualified included:

  • Joshua Wong (黃之鋒 Huáng Zhīfēng), the young pro-democracy activist. Authorities noted that Wong had described the national security law as “draconian” in their explanation for his disqualification, per the Hong Kong Free Press.
  • Alvin Yeung (楊岳橋 Yáng Yuèqiáo), the leader of the Civic Party, and a political moderate.
  • Dennis Kwok (郭榮鏗 Guō Róngkēng), also in the Civic Party.
  • Gwyneth Ho (何桂藍 Hé Guìlán), a social activist and former journalist.

The Hong Kong government issued a statement explaining why it supported the disqualifications. The statement made clear that “expressing an objection in principle to the enactment of the National Security Law” is now a disqualifying offense, among several others.

  • This is not a surprise: As legal scholar Jerome Cohen pointed out when the national security law text was released, one of four major changes it made to Hong Kong’s laws was that candidates for any elected office would need to endorse the law in order to avoid disqualification.

More to read on the candidate disqualifications and the international reaction: