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[Asia Centre in the media] Hong Kong’s ‘patriots-only’ election tests China’s vision for territory


On December, 8th, 2023, the “Financial Times” published an article authored by Chan Ho-Him about Hong Kong’s elections, with quotes from Asia Centre Senior Research Fellow Jean-Pierre Cabestan. National authorities are urging citizens to vote in local elections under a new “patriots-only” system that effectively excludes opposition candidates.

The district council elections are seen as a crucial test of public support for China’s political order. Turnout is expected to be low, with analysts forecasting less than 30%, compared to 71% in the 2019 district council election. Since pro-democracy protests in 2019, Beijing has imposed a national security law, suppressing dissent and disqualifying opposition candidates.

The district-level election is a “parody of democracy” in the form of “guided democracy with Chinese Communist party characteristics”, said Jean-Pierre Cabestan. “I don’t think Hong Kong voters have changed their minds. Today they just don’t have a voice any more”. The territory’s citizens could now only choose “between exit and loyalty”, he added.

Read the full article here.