Hong Kong (AP) - Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong can not compete in the upcoming municipal election. The 22-year-old leader of the democracy movement in the Chinese Special Administrative Region was not admitted to the election on November 24.
He advocates for the "self-determination" of Hong Kong, it is said in a decision of the authorities. The exclusion of the co-founder of the opposition Demosisto party should rekindle the tense atmosphere in the protested for months Asian metropolis.
The Hong Kong government supported Wong's expulsion on the grounds that self-determination or support for Hong Kong's independence was incompatible with the constitutional and legal status of the Special Administrative Region. However, in the three hearings for the candidacy, the young activist emphasized that he and his party "neither promote nor support independence as an option of self-determination," as the South China Morning Post newspaper quoted from it.
The committee responsible did not want to believe that, but assumed that he had made this statement "only as a compromise and not out of honest intention". Wong just wanted to mislead the public. His nomination was rejected. In a reaction to Twitter, Wong criticized the decision: "It shows how Beijing manipulates the elections through political censorship and pre-selection."
The activist has been considered the face of Democratic forces in Hong Kong since the 2014 umbrella movement. With their demand for free elections, protesters had paralyzed parts of the Asian economic and financial metropolis for weeks. The movement regained momentum this summer with controversy over a now-withdrawn law for deliveries to China. For five months, Hong Kongers have demonstrated every weekend against their government and the growing influence of the Beijing Communist leadership because they fear for their freedoms.
A meeting of Wong with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on the sidelines of an event in Berlin in September had led to fierce anger in Beijing and a noticeable slowdown in German-Chinese relations. Wong was also described on Tuesday as a "leader of a political group promoting Hong Kong's independence," a report by state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua said.
The allegation from Beijing to want independence, Wong had rejected more than two years ago in an interview with the German Press Agency in March 2017 as part of a smear campaign. "I'm not one of those who stand for independence, but we need to protect freedom of expression, so a discussion about it must be allowed."
Since its return to China in 1997, the former British Crown Colony is autonomously governed by the principle of "one country, two systems". The seven million Hong Kong residents are under China's sovereignty, but - unlike the people of the Communist People's Republic - enjoy greater political rights such as freedom of expression and assembly.