Hong Kong district council elections were held in a largely safe and orderly environment on Sunday. A few radical opposition figures attempted to disrupt the proceedings to make it difficult for pro-establishment candidates and their supporters, but it did not have much impact. People had worried that unrest sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill could force the cancellation of elections, but that didn’t happen.
Voting results show that pro-democrats have scored a landslide victory, winning a majority of the 452 seats open to elections, though the difference in actual votes received by the two camps was much smaller.
Hong Kong district council is different from the legislative council. As a publicly elected institution of 18 districts of Hong Kong, the district council’s function is to serve the community, express public’s appeal regarding livelihood, such as transportation, environment, and living conditions. This year’s district council elections were full of political slogans because of the extradition bill controversy. But regardless, neither side has much room to politicize the district council elections.
The unrest sparked by anti-extradition bill is still ongoing, which is conducive for pro-democracy camps to mobilize support in a short span of time. Hong Kong has been engulfed by riots in recent months, during which the irrational political energy has had its impact on elections, particularly exerting pressure on pro-establishment candidates and their supporters.
It must be pointed out that the West has been helping HK opposition in district council elections in the past week. Australian media suddenly broke a story of a Chinese spy infiltrating HK defecting to Australia (The man is a convicted fraudster). A former employee at British Consulate General in HK detained 3 months ago on the mainland for soliciting prostitutes told BBC last week he was tortured during detention. They are intended to influence public opinion on Hong Kong. US lawmakers hastily passed Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, also targeting district council elections.
Hong Kong radical forces and Western supporters behind them wanted to stage a political demonstration during the voting. They tried to deny the urgency of ending chaos in Hong Kong. But we want to say that the pro-democracy camp winning more seats doesn’t mean Hong Kong voters support violent demonstrations. Majority of Hongkongers are tired of violence and are yearning for order to be restored.
Election result showed that there is still emotion within Hong Kong society, affecting rational thinking over the key issue of how the city should walk out of its current predicament.
It is conceivable and impossible that majority of Hongkongers would encourage violence, support political confrontation against the mainland, and back the city to become a bridgehead for US political forces to pressure China. This is because it will severely undermine the interests of Hongkongers and push the city into an environment of uncertainties. It is crucial to rationally interpret the result of Hong Kong’s district council elections, lest mobs should be emboldened by misreading them.
Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland follow different political systems. Expressing views by constitutional provisions such as votes should be encouraged in Hong Kong. The district council elections have had their impact but such influence has its limits. Both sides should be respected by all. All forces in Hong Kong, including the opposition, must compete for influence in the establishment. No one should follow the devious path of street politics.
It is believed that whatever the ups and downs in Hong Kong polls, all elections in the city are held within the aegis of the special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, and they can’t impact the basic framework of “one country, two systems.”
It is hoped that the pro-establishment groups in Hong Kong will not be discouraged, and Hongkongers who love the country and the city will not be disheartened after the district council elections. As long as elections are held, there will be swings. What’s more, in such an unfavorable situation, the pro-establishment camp still received about 40 percent of the votes.
China’s development and progress are unstoppable. Hong Kong’s politics will certainly be increasingly linked to China’s development and progress. This is the major historical trend. The country will never abandon Hong Kong, and will never ignore the people and forces who love the motherland and the city. Hong Kong’s problems need objective analysis and practical solutions. The country will always provide guarantees for Hong Kong.
The article is an editorial of the Global Times. [email protected]