How Hong Kong’s “Patriots Only” Elections Strengthen Beijing’s Hold



Only a few of all of the candidates running this year have described themselves as “pro-democracy,” and they share one thing in common: they watch Beijing’s red lines.

They have avoided the kind of political positions that could lead to their disqualification or even imprisonment, such as demanding Hong Kong independence or foreign sanctions against Hong Kong officials.

In Hong Kong’s new electoral landscape, the absence of the dominant opposition has resulted in a strange political twist: these outside candidates are receiving aid from Beijing’s representatives and allies, who would under normal circumstances be their rivals. But support is limited to helping them get through the rigorous nomination process to get elected, not winning votes on election day.

A pro-democracy candidate, Wong Sing-chi, said he believed it was important to fight for democracy by continuing in office, even if the system was flawed. If elected, he said, he would demand an amnesty for nonviolent protesters who were sentenced to prison and a reduction in the use of a national security law that quashed dissent.

Mr. Wong, a former Democratic Party member, said the Central People’s Government Liaison Office, Beijing’s increasingly assertive arm in the city, had asked him twice this year whether he would run. But he said he made the decision to run alone. After that, he received a powerful boost from Lo Man-tuen, a prominent pro-Beijing voice on the electoral committee, who helped him secure enough nominations from the corps to run.

“I’m absolutely not their cup of tea, but they also want me to run so there are other voices,” Wong said.

Adrian Lau, who won a district council seat in a pro-democracy wave in 2019, said he was running for the legislative council because some voters did not trust pro-Beijing politicians.

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