U.N. Urges China to Allow Free Hong Kong Elections

The ongoing Hong Kong pro-democracy protests have drawn attention from the United Nations. On Thursday, the U.N. Human Rights Committee urged China to reconsider the restrictions on candidate nominations that have been one of protesters’ major grievances. On August 31, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee ruled that only candidates who won the endorsement of more than half of a Beijing-aligned committee could be nominated for the 2017 election of chief executive. From Michael Forsythe at the New York Times:

The United Nations Human Rights Committee urged China on Thursday to allow elections in Hong Kong without restrictions on who can run as a candidate. The move appeared likely to draw strong criticism from Beijing, where officials decided in August to set strict guidelines for the 2017 election of the city’s next leader, prompting mass sit-in protests.

The 18-member panel in Geneva said that Hong Kong needed to do more to ensure that its people had not only the right to vote, but also the right to run for office.

[…] Emily Lau, who heads the Democratic Party in Hong Kong, attended the meeting in Geneva where the panel issued its statement.

“I hope that Beijing will be persuaded to revisit the issue,” she said in a telephone interview. “We always have to live in hope.” [Source]

Despite external pressure from the international community, the Hong Kong government stands by Beijing’s decision, characterizing protesters demands as unlawful. A report from Neil Western and Ting Shi at Bloomberg shows that Chief Executive CY Leung’s brandishing of the Basic Law is not striking a chord with young protesters:

Sitting in the drawing room of a colonial mansion on a hill in central Hong Kong, the city’s leader Leung Chun-ying says his biggest problem trying to end street protests is simple: students don’t know their history.

Like a preacher brandishing a bible, Leung reads from his copy of the Basic Law, the city’s de facto constitution, pointing out his hands are tied when it comes to how universal suffrage can be implemented in 2017. The trouble for Leung, 60, is that his mantra isn’t washing with a generation that wasn’t born when the document was drawn up. [Source]

For more on the ongoing Hong Kong protests, see prior CDT coverage.


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