(Vatican Radio) Three Hong Kong activists have asked the High Court to review an election commission ruling that could bar anyone advocating for independence from China from standing in an upcoming poll. The move marks the first legal challenge to the decision that was supported by the Chief Executive, Beijing's representative in the city.
For the first time, candidates for September's Legislative Council election will be required to pledge that Hong Kong is an "inalienable" part of China.
A poll released by the Chinese University of Hong Kong at the weekend showed about one in six residents want the Special Administrative Region of China to become independent of the mainland.
Tensions have grown over the past two years, with activists saying China is failing to abide by the Basic Law agreement regulating its ‘one country, two systems’ status.
Mary Yuen works as a researcher in the Centre for Catholic Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong where a popular protest movement began. Philippa Hitchen visited the campus last week during a meeting of the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network. She talked to Mary about the role of the Church and about the concerns of those supporting Hong Kong's ‘umbrella’ or ‘occupy movement’….
Mary talks about the origins of the growing protest movement, started by students groups in the wake of a decision by China’s National People’s Congress to set conditions for candidates standing for the Legislative Council that elects Hong Kong’s Chief Executive.
Though the Basic Law clearly says that the people of Hong Kong have the right to elect their leader, Mary says many people are “really disappointed” by the increased screening of candidates and no longer see the selection process as “a real, authentic election by the people”.
Church calls for peaceful protest
She says the Catholic Church continues to support democracy and Cardinal Tong has published several statements to this effect, insisting on the need for peaceful protest. She says Church leaders are still hopeful the government "will hear their requests" and stop screening out candidates with different political opinions.
She says concerns about pressure from Beijing have been growing significantly under the current Chief Executive who, she says, is not creating an atmosphere of harmony, democracy and stable government. Instead she believes he is creating greater conflict and divisions by labelling people as enemies. Not just the pan-democratic parties, she notes, but even most pro-establishment people do not want him to run again in the next election because he “has not created a good atmosphere of cooperation among people” with different political opinions.