Hundreds of Thousands of Hong Kongers Are Defying China and Demanding the Right to Nominate Their Next Leader

Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

The Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. Photo: Cutty P.

About 700,000 Hong Kong citizens have voted so far in an unofficial referendum hosted by civic group Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) on democratic electoral reform, earning the ire of communist China.

China has promised Hong Kong a direct vote for the next chief executive in 2017 instead of election via a largely pro-Beijing committee made of up representatives of different economic sectors and Hong Kong politicians. But the Chinese government insists that all candidates should be selected by a nominating committee, claiming that it is the only lawful means to do so according to the former British colony’s constitution — the Basic Law.

People in Hong Kong, which enjoys a high level of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle, worry that the nominating committee is a way for China to ensure only puppet candidates are chosen. One of the criteria of a chief executive set by Beijing is he or she must “love the country and love Hong Kong.”

The referendum, held in partnership with University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme, includes three different options for electing Hong Kong’s next leader, and all three include allowing the people to choose the candidates. Voting opened on June 20, 2014 and will end on June 29.

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Written by Oiwan Lam
Global Voices

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