The only person to be banned from running in the upcoming District Council elections over their political stance, Joshua Wong, on Tuesday accused Beijing of strong-arming local officials into carrying out a ‘political mission’ to exclude him from the November polls.
Wong told reporters it was clear that his stance supporting self-determination for Hong Kong wasn’t the true reason for his disqualification.
“The true reason is my identity. [Being] Joshua Wong is the crime in their mind. Beijing has deprived me of the right to institutional participation permanently, but no matter [if] they lock me up in prison, [or] censor me… from the ballot. My commitment for the democracy movement in Hong Kong will never eroded by Beijing and President Xi,” he said.
Wong said the returning officer, Laura Aron, had ‘distorted’ and ‘misinterpreted’ his answers to questions about his political views to justify his exclusion from the race, and accused Beijing of exerting “extremely strong pressure and interference on Hong Kong government officials who are responsible for deciding my candidacy.”
In a document setting out the reasons for Wong’s disqualification, Aron – who only took up the responsibility of vetting his candidacy last Thursday after the original returning officer took an indefinite period of sick leave – concluded that Wong was trying to “mislead” the public in stating that he and his group Demosisto no longer supports independence for Hong Kong as a possible option for the city.
Aron said it is obvious that Wong “supports and subscribes” to a Demosisto doctrine that a non-binding referendum should be held so Hong Kong can determine its future after the One Country Two Systems arrangement expires in 2047.
She said the inclusion of independence as one option in this referendum is “incompatible with the Basic Law and the status of Hong Kong as a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China.”
Aron noted that it was only on a second request for clarification earlier this month that Wong answered that Demosisto doesn’t think independence and local autonomy are “necessary options” in such a plebiscite, but are just two of the possible views that the public might support.
But she dismissed his explanation, saying “this is clearly to mislead the readers to believe that it is not Demosisto’s stance that independence could be an option for self-determination.”
Wong had also cited a stern warning by President Xi Jinping earlier this month that any independence advocates in China would be “crushed” as another reason why neither he nor Demosisto would promote or support Hong Kong independence.
To this, Aron said Demosisto’s support for self-determination predates Xi’s statement by three years, and “Wong was trying to mislead the readers that both Demosisto and he have abandoned the notion when neither of them have in fact done so.”
The returning officer added that while in general, officials would accept that candidates accept electoral requirements to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR so long as they sign a declaration, this does not apply “in a plain case where there are cogent, clear and compelling materials which would demonstrate to an objective reasonable person that the candidate plainly cannot have the intention at the time of the nomination.”