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Defiant Hong Kong youngsters get most votes in weekend primary

This article is more than 12 months old

HONG KONG: A younger, more defiant generation of Hong Kong democrats has secured the most votes in unofficial primary elections, setting the stage for a battle with pro-Beijing politicians for control of the city's legislature.

The success of young contenders in the primaries organised by the pro-democracy camp on the weekend to pick candidates for a Sept 6 election for a 70-seat city assembly comes amid widespread resentment of a national security law that Beijing imposed last month.

Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong won in his district, but he has been disqualified from previous elections and could face similar hurdles this time.

Mr Wong warned against any sweeping disqualification of candidates when he held a news conference with 15 other young politicians who won in their districts.

"If the government cracks down on us and disqualifies all the candidates who joined the primaries, it will cause more outrage in the international community and encourage more people to vote for the pro-democratic camp in September," Mr Wong said.

The 16 contenders - all but one under 30 and dressed in black T-shirts - are part of a so-called localist or resistance camp, which outshone the cohort of traditional democrats. "Localism has become the mainstream," said localist candidate Henry Wong. "We will resist against the tyranny."

The new security law punishes what Beijing broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with up to life in prison and sees Chinese intelligence agents operating officially in the city for the first time.

The law has already had a chilling effect on many aspects of life.

Earlier yesterday, former democracy lawmaker Au Nok-hin said he had pulled out as an organiser of the weekend vote amid accusations from Beijing that it was illegal. "Withdrawal is the only choice... (to) protect myself and others," Mr Au said in a Facebook post.

A spokesman for Beijing's top office in the city, the Hong Kong Liaison Office, said the pro-democracy camp's bid for a legislative majority was an attempt to carry out a "colour revolution", referring to uprisings in other parts of the world. - REUTERS

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