Hong Kong Election Candidates Refuse Loyalty Declaration

July 19, 2016

NewsStandOnline.Net (19-July-2016): One in three candidates hoping to run in elections to Hong Kong’s legislature on September 4th have refused to sign a declaration accepting Chinese rule and renouncing independence for the city, election officials said.

The office handling nominations for candidacy in the Legislative Council (LegCo) poll says it 33 received applications on Saturday, the first day of a two-week nomination period, local media reported.  ”Nearly a third did not sign the declaration which also includes a pledge of allegiance to the Hong Kong government,” the media said.

The new form, which requires candidates to accept that Hong Kong is “an inalienable part of China,” appears to be aimed at ruling out those who campaign for greater autonomy for the city, or outright independence from Beijing.

Officials have given out mixed messages, with some saying that a refusal to sign would invalidate a candidate, and the nominations office saying it will process all applications regardless.

Hong Kong Election Candidates Refuse Loyalty Declaration

A number of pan-democratic candidates and those open to the idea of independence have said they won’t sign the form, which they have slammed as a further attack of freedom of speech in the former British colony, which was promised the continuation of its existing freedoms for 50 years after the 1997 handover to China.

Pro-independence Hong Kong National Party convenor and LegCo hopeful Andy Chan said none of his party’s candidates had signed.  ”None of us signed the declaration form, because we don’t think it was crucial to hand it over as part of the application process,” Chan said earlier today.

“There will be no legal problems if we don’t, so we’re not going to do something that is unnecessary.”  But he said it remains unclear how the government will treat such applicants for nomination.

“I think the whole aim of this declaration was to rule out pro-independence candidates,” Chan said. “I’m not sure that they can actually achieve that [under existing election rules], however.”

“If they try, they will face much bigger legal and political consequences,” said Chan.