Independence on the agenda as young activists stand in Hong Kong election

Young Hong Kong independence activists calling for a complete break from China stood in major elections for the first time Sunday, the biggest vote since 2014 pro-democracy rallies. They are fighting for seats in the Legislative Council, or LegCo – Hong Kong’s lawmaking body – as concerns grow that Beijing is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Polling stations were busy as campaigners with megaphones urged residents to vote on a hot and humid day. But, while the activists hope to catch a rising tide of discontent, there are fears that their stance will split the pro-democracy movement, with many older campaigners against breaking away from China.

This election is very much characterised by an inter-generational change of politicians and political leaders

Hong Kong political analyst Joseph Cheng

At stake in Sunday’s poll is the power to keep the city’s widely unpopular Beijing-backed leader, Leung Chun-ying, and his government in check. Democrat-minded lawmakers control 27 of 70 seats, compared with 43 held by lawmakers friendly to Beijing. Polls show some of the handful of pro-independence candidates running may win seats. “It’s bleak, but I think if China doesn’t leave us to do what we want, I think the only way is to fight for independence,” said Aron Yuen, a 34-year-old college lecturer. “You can’t negotiate with somebody who doesn’t keep their promise.”

The democracy in the election is reflected by the free choice of voters, they do not need to be told who to vote.

Beijing-backed Leg-Co leader Leung Chun-ying