China’s communist regime claimed on Monday the resounding defeat of pro-communist candidates in Hong Kong’s District Council elections Sunday occurred because of American and Western foreign interference, not popular disgust with Beijing.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi, remarking on the election during a visit to Japan, also initially refused to accept the results of the election, which resulted in record losses for the pro-China establishment.
Over 71 percent of Hong Kong’s eligible voters cast their ballots on Sunday, a record since the 1997 surrender of the city from the United Kingdom to China. Pro-democracy, anti-communist candidates took over 17 of the region’s 18 District Councils; the last one, Islands District, only had two of ten councilmen on the ballot.
Hong Kong has two legislative systems – the District Council and the Legislative Council (LegCo). The District Councils tend to deal only with local administrative matters, while LegCo acts as Hong Kong’s Congress. Unlike LegCo, District Councilmen are democratically elected, essentially the only unfiltered expression of popular sentiment allowed by elections in Hong Kong.
“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,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday, refusing to accept the results of the election, according to the South China Morning Post.
“The United States, making use of its domestic law, wantonly interfered in China’s internal affairs and attempted to undermine ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the prosperity and stability of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, violating the United Nations Charter and the basic norms governing international relations,” Wang later complained.
Chinese officials have expressed particular discontent at Congress for passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bill that, if President Donald Trump signs it, will require the Department of State to publish an annual assessment of the status of human rights in the city and, if found to be lacking, require the government to revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status. The law does not address Hong Kong’s elections and China has not yet published any evidence of the alleged interference against which Wang railed.
The state propaganda outlet Global Times nonetheless made similar accusations to Wang’s on Monday.
“It must be pointed out that the West has been helping HK opposition in district council elections in the past week,” the Times claimed. “Australian media suddenly broke a story of a Chinese spy infiltrating HK defecting to Australia (The man is a convicted fraudster). A former employee at British Consulate General in HK detained 3 months ago on the mainland [China] for soliciting prostitutes told BBC last week he was tortured during detention.”
“They are intended to influence public opinion on Hong Kong. US lawmakers hastily passed Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, also targeting district council elections,” the newspaper complained.
The Chinese government alleges that Wang Liqiang, a spy who defected in Australia this weekend, is a fraud and that detailed accusations of horrific torture under Chinese custody by former British consulate employee Simon Cheng are invalid because he allegedly solicited prostitutes. The Global Times does not elaborate on what either claim has to do with the Hong Kong local elections.
“Hong Kong radical forces and Western supporters behind them wanted to stage a political demonstration during the voting. They tried to deny the urgency of ending chaos in Hong Kong,” the Global Times alleged. “But we want to say that the pro-democracy camp winning more seats doesn’t mean Hong Kong voters support violent demonstrations. Majority of Hongkongers are tired of violence and are yearning for order to be restored.”
The editor of the newspaper, communist pundit Hu Xijin, added to the allegations on Twitter – a social medium banned in China.
The West has been helping HK opposition in district council elections in the past week. Australian media suddenly broke a story of a Chinese spy infiltrating in HK defected to Australia (The man is a convicted fraudster).
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 24, 2019
The violence during Hong Kong protests has almost entirely been the work of Hong Kong police, a detail omitted from the Global Times report. The protests – demanding China stop interfering in the governance of Hong Kong – began in June as completely peaceful marches and manifestations. After police began copiously deploying tear gas, rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, and ultimately opening fire on protesters, younger protesters began protecting themselves with counterattacks. The protesters have also faced attacks from unidentified pro-China mobs that police have admitted have ties to organized crime groups known as “triads.”
Despite the Global Times‘s accusations, the South China Morning Post noted that, in Mandarin-language broadcasts, Chinese state entities did not report on the election victory, instead reporting on alleged “harassment” of pro-communist voters.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also abstained from commenting directly on the elections, claiming they were a “domestic” matter and as such did not fall to the Foreign Ministry to address.
“The most pressing task for Hong Kong at the moment is stopping violence and restoring order. As Hong Kong is part of China, its affairs are purely domestic affairs,” Geng said on Monday. “China is determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. We are determined in implementing the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and in opposing external interference in Hong Kong affairs.”
Chinese media claims of interference run counter to the statement from Hong Kong’s official government that the election was “completed smoothly” and no fraud or irregular activities occurred.
“In general, the poll and the count were completed smoothly thanks to the tolerance and patience of Hong Kong citizens,” the Chairman of the Commission, Barnabas Fung, said.