Young anti-China activists victorious in Hong Kong vote

Hong Kong: A new generation of young Hong Kong
politicians advocating a break from Beijing became lawmakers
for the first time today in the biggest poll since mass pro-
democracy rallies in 2014.


    A record 2.2 million people voted in the city-wide
legislative election as fears grow Beijing is tightening its
grip on the semi-autonomous city.


    It was the highest turnout since Hong Kong was returned to
China by Britain in 1997 and comes as tensions have reached
unprecedented highs over Beijing interference.


    Hong Kong's freedoms were protected for 50 years in the
handover agreement, but many believe they are disappearing.
    Young activists particularly have lost faith in the "one
country, two systems" deal under which the city is governed,
which grants it much greater liberties than on the mainland.
    That disillusion, exacerbated by the failure of the 2014
rallies to win political reform, has spawned a slew of new
parties calling for more autonomy.


    As results rolled in, four of the new breed of candidates
were confirmed to have won seats, with a fifth also on course
for victory.


    Among them was Nathan Law, 23, leader of the 2014
"Umbrella Movement" rallies, who came second in his
constituency.
    Hong Kong is split into five geographical constituencies,
each with several seats in the Legislative Council (LegCo),
Hong Kong's lawmaking body.


    Law and his new party Demosisto are calling for a
referendum on independence, emphasising Hong Kongers' right to
choose whether they want to split from China.
    "I think Hong Kongers really wanted change," Law said,
celebrating his win.


    "Young people have a sense of urgency when it comes to the
future."


    With the pro-democracy camp divided between those who back
the idea of possible independence and those who are more wary
of the once taboo notion, Law said he would seek unity.
    "We have to be united to fight against the (Chinese)
Communist Party," he told AFP.


    Law has previously distanced himself from the more radical
"localist" movement, which includes activists who are
stridently pro-independence and have previously advocated
violence.


    Young campaigners have been galvanised by a number of
incidents which have pointed to increased Beijing
interference. 

AFP