Hong Kong’s leader vows to “listen humbly” to the people after they turned out in record numbers and voted heavily in favor of opposition candidates in local elections, which went ahead peacefully despite months of violent protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
With more than 95% of constituencies declared, opposition candidates appeared to have seized an overwhelming majority of the seats in the city’s 18 district councils in Sunday elections.
Local broadcaster RTHK said on Monday that 390 of 452 district council seats — or nearly 90% — went to opposition candidates.
Seventeen of the 18 councils in the territory are now controlled by opposition councilors.
District councils, being elected on four-year terms, have little political power and mainly manage local issues such as bus routes and garbage collection.
The city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday her government “respects the election results” and “will certainly listen humbly to citizens’ opinions and reflect on them seriously.”
Lam said there were “various analyses and interpretations,” but that “quite a few are of the view that the results reflect people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society.”
Reacting to the outcome, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday that the territory is a part of China “no matter what happens.”
“It’s not the final result yet. Let’s wait for the final result, OK? However, it is clear that no matter what happens, Hong Kong is a part of China and a special administrative region of China,” Wang added. “Any attempt to mess up Hong Kong or even damage, its prosperity and stability, will not succeed.”
Hong Kong has been rocked by turbulent protests since June, when the government proposed a bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China. The bill was later suspended indefinitely, but the protests continued unabated, with growing calls for greater democracy in the city.
More than 5,000 people have been arrested during the protests that have taken an increasingly violent form.
Protest movements consider the vote as a referendum on the popularity of the city’s leadership and want Lam’s government to immediately meet the demands of the protesters.
They have five major demands, including not characterizing the protests as “riots,” an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality, amnesty for arrested protesters, and implementation of complete universal suffrage.
The Chinese government says the United States and Britain have been fanning the flames of unrest in Hong Kong by supporting the protesters.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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