Pro-democracy victory in Hong Kong presents way through the crisis, UK says

The landslide victory of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition in local elections presents an opportunity to “find a way through the crisis”, the UK Government has said.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab welcomed on Monday the commitment of the Chinese territory’s leader, Carrie Lam, to seriously reflect on the decisive message sent to the former British colony’s rulers.

The pro-democracy triumph was interpreted as a clear rebuke to Ms Lam’s handling of the crisis and as support for the widespread protests sparked by fears of closening ties with mainland China.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (Victoria Jones/PA)

Downing Street remained “seriously concerned” over the situation, which has seen six months of civil unrest and violent clashes with allegations of police brutality.

Though the district councils have little power, the vote had become a referendum on support for the protests and the results showed public opinion is unequivocal.

Wu Chi-wai, leader of the victorious party, said the group won nearly 90% of the 452 district seats, handing it unprecedented control of 17 out of 18 district councils.

Wu Chi-wai
Wu Chi-wai leads the pro-democracy opposition (AP/Vincent Yu)

But so far Beijing has not signalled it will soften its stance on the nation which was returned to China in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” arrangement giving Hong Kong greater autonomy than the mainland.

Supporters of democracy in Hong Kong have demanded that Ms Lam and Beijing seriously take notice of the demonstrators’ demands, including for an independent investigation to probe the events of the past six months.

Ms Lam, in a statement, acknowledged the results “reflect people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society”.

Mr Raab described the elections as “an important opportunity for the people of Hong Kong to make their voices heard”.

"I welcome the Hong Kong government facilitating these elections, which were an important opportunity for the people of Hong Kong to make their voices heard. We don’t want to see any more violence."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab statement on Hong Kong district council elections

— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) November 25, 2019

“We don’t want to see any more violence. It was reassuring to hear Carrie Lam commit to reflecting seriously on the message delivered by the people of Hong Kong,” he said.

“There is now an opportunity to find a way through the crisis with political dialogue that reflects the legitimate aspirations of the people of Hong Kong and respects the one country two systems model.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added: “We are pleased that this weekend’s vote took place peacefully but remain seriously concerned by the ongoing situation and continue to urge calm.

“Political dialogue is the only way forward and we want to see the Hong Kong authorities agree a path to resolve the situation.”

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