The UK Foreign Office has said it is “concerned” by the disqualification of Demosisto candidate Agnes Chow from the legislative by-election race.
Chow was barred on Saturday over her association with the party, which supports self-determination for Hong Kong people. The government said in a press release: “If a person advocates or promotes self-determination or independence by any means, he or she cannot possibly uphold the Basic Law or fulfil his or her duties as a legislator.”
“We are concerned by the rejection of Agnes Chow’s nomination for the forthcoming Legislative Council by-election,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said in a statement issued on Wednesday night.
“The right to stand for election is a fundamental right enshrined in Article 26 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights… Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, and its rights and freedoms, are central to its way of life, and it is important that they should be fully respected.”
Article 26 stipulates: “Permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law.”
The statement was issued as British Prime Minister Theresa May started an official visit to China. May has pledged to raise the future of Hong Kong in her meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, underlining Britain’s commitment to the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. It came after pressure from Lord Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, and Lord Ashdown, patron of the group Hong Kong Watch.
The short statement came two days after a statement from the EU which said the disqualification “risks diminishing Hong Kong’s international reputation as a free and open society.”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has denied any involvement in the decision to disqualify Chow. Lam also denied the disqualification was based purely on her political affiliation.
Demosisto has said they will not give up advocating for self-determination, which they say is not equal to independence.
Au Nok-hin, a pro-democracy candidate seen as a substitute for Chow, was allowed to enter the race by officers on Wednesday night.
The UK statement did not mention another barred candidate, Ventus Lau – who was banned from the election on Tuesday. The election officer claimed Lau expressed “an apparent reluctance to denounce his hitherto manifested and sustained stance of independence of Hong Kong,” even though he has publicly given up the notion.
Others who submitted nomination forms to run on Hong Kong Island include Judy Chan, Edward Yum and Ng Dick-hay. Others who submitted nomination forms to run in New Territories East include Gary Fan, Bill Tang, Christine Fong, Estella Chan, Nelson Wong, James Chan and Joyce Chiu.