Beijing Hong Kong Office Warns Pro-Democracy Survey May Violate New Security Law

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Beijing’s main representative office in Hong Kong warned that the weekend’s pro-democracy opposition primary elections could violate a new national security law, exacerbating concerns about the crackdown on the democratic movement of the former British colony.

FILE PHOTO: Riot police patrol in a shopping center during a protest after the Chinese parliament passes a national security law for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, China, on June 30, 2020. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu / File photo

Preliminary results showed that a group of young Democrats, or “locals,” had a strong performance in the elections that garnered more than 600,000 votes, reflecting a possible changing of the guard to a more radical group that is likely to irritate authorities in Beijing.

Primary polls aim to select candidates for democracy who have the best chance of success in the September elections for the Legislative Council, the governing body of Hong Kong. Final results will be released later on Tuesday.

Many observers view the elections as a symbolic protest vote against the new security law that punishes what Beijing broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with life sentences.

“The objective of organizer Benny Tai and the opposition camp is to seize the ruling power of Hong Kong and … carry out a Hong Kong version of the ‘color revolution’,” said a spokesman for the Liaison Office at a statement just before midnight. Monday.

Luo Huining, the head of the Liaison Office, will oversee the implementation of the controversial security law that will also allow mainland security agents to have their official base in China’s freest city for the first time.

Critics of the law fear it will crush the broad freedoms promised to Hong Kong when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, while supporters say it will bring stability to the city after a year of sometimes violent anti-government protests.

The law has prompted condemnation from Western nations, and the European Union said on Monday it is working on measures to punish Beijing for the move, including a possible revision of EU governments’ ‘extradition treaties’ with the financial center and offer more visas to its citizens. .

The law has also seen countries such as Britain and Canada warn citizens of an increased risk of arbitrary detention in Hong Kong and possible extradition to mainland China, where they could face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

Last week, Australia said it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong because of the security law and that it was offering students, graduates and workers in Australia on temporary visas the opportunity to stay and work for another five years.

Finland said on Monday that the Nordic country’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong should not apply, as the security law means that people could be transferred to mainland China.

The UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression said Monday that he was “extremely concerned” about Hong Kong’s future after the new national security law was passed.

Reports by Jessie Pang and James Pomfret in Hong Kong, Robin Emmott in Brussels, written by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards:Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.