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Hong Kong elections: Pro-democracy campaigners win by landslide victory

The results of Sunday’s elections in the semi-autonomous city have sent the Beijing-backed government a clear message of public support for the demands of a pro-democracy movement that has gripped the territory for months.

AFP | New Delhi |

Hong Kong voters have handed out a landslide victory to its pro-democracy campaigners in the local council elections and given them control of all of 18 councils for the first time. The results can be seen as a strong message sent by the citizens of Hong Kong to its government in an election closely watched by Beijing.

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said her government would respect the election results and would “listen humbly” to the views of the public. “The government will certainly listen humbly to citizens’ opinions and reflect on them seriously,” Lam said in a statement. She also acknowledged that the result has sparked discussion of the fact that “citizens are dissatisfied with the current social situation and … deep-seated problems,” without going into details.

However, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday had said that Hong Kong is a part of China “no matter what happens”, with the crisis-hit city’s pro-democracy campaigners’ crushing victory in the community-level elections at the weekend. The results of Sunday’s elections in the semi-autonomous city have sent the Beijing-backed government a clear message of public support for the demands of a protest movement that has gripped the territory for months.

Counting was still underway following record turnout, but partial results indicated that candidates favoring greater democracy were on course to seize a shock majority of the normally establishment-dominated 18 district councils. Hong Kong’s people turned out in force on November 24 to cast their vote in local council elections that the city’s pro-democracy movement hopes will add pressure on the Beijing-backed government to heed their demands.

“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 told reporters after he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

“Any attempt to mess up Hong Kong, or even damage its prosperity and stability, will not succeed.” Hong Kong has been rocked by months of pro-democracy protests over concerns that Beijing is chipping away at the financial hub’s special rights, which are unheard of in the mainland, including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.

Hong Kong’s voters turned out in record numbers for local council elections that the city’s pro-democracy movement hopes will add pressure on the Beijing-backed government to heed their demands after months of violent protest. Lengthy queues snaked out of polling stations across the territory in the election for 18 district councils, where high turnout is expected to benefit democratic forces.