Hong Kong Bans Pro-Democracy Activist Chow From By-Election

Updated on
  • Demosisto party confirms Chow disqualified in Facebook post
  • Government announces candidate is invalid, without naming Chow
Agnes Chow.

Photographer: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

The Hong Kong government banned pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow from running in a Legislative Council by-election, saying her political beliefs are contrary to the city’s constitution. 

A candidate’s nomination was determined invalid because a person who advocated “self-determination” or independence would not be able to uphold the city’s Basic Law or fulfill his or her duties as a legislator, the government said in a press release Saturday, without naming Chow. 

Chow’s party Demosisto confirmed and condemned the disqualification in a Facebook statement. She was seeking to run for a seat in the Hong Kong Island constituency which was vacated after fellow party member Nathan Law was disqualified.

“This is a political decision, a political screening,” Chow told reporters on Saturday afternoon. She added that her party never promoted independence and its advocacy was twisted.

Local election officials turned down the candidacies of six would-be lawmakers in 2016, the first Legislative Council election after the Occupy protests, on grounds that they supported independence from China. It raised concern among the legal community over China’s commitment to the “one country, two systems” framework that guarantees Hong Kong autonomy.

Four opposition lawmakers were ousted last July after a court ruled that they took oaths improperly. Last year’s ruling came less than two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping told Hong Kong, a special administrative region of the mainland, that challenges to Beijing’s authority wouldn’t be tolerated.

(Updates with Chow’s quote in fourth paragraph, background in fifth paragraph.)
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