Beijing has blasted the Hong Kong democratic camp’s weekend primaries as a “serious provocation” of the current electoral system after organisers revealed the initial results from electronic ballots.

In a statement released on Monday night, China’s liaison office in Hong Kong called the vote to select pro-democracy candidates “illegal” and said it would undermine the fairness of the Legislative Council election in September.

democrats primary election

The primaries aim to narrow the final list of pro-democracy candidates to run in the official election. Organisers said they hope to win more than 35 seats to secure a majority in the legislature.

Beijing’s representative pointed the finger at co-organiser and law professor Benny Tai, who helped initiate the 2014 Umbrella Movement. The office said it was “typical” for him to be suspected of “breaking the law,” while claiming “foreign forces” had helped to facilitate the primaries.

“It is a serious provocation to the current election system, seriously damages the fairness and impartiality of the Legislative Council Election, and seriously harms to the legal rights and interests of other candidates,” the office wrote.

On Sunday, co-organising political group Power for Democracy said more than 610,000 people had cast their ballots throughout the two-day vote. Tai hailed the turnout as a “miracle” as Hongkongers participated despite fears over the newly-enacted national security law and Covid-19.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau on Monday warned it would follow up on complaints related to the election. It said some claimed the primaries had “interfered” with and “manipulated” September’s ballot, thus “severely jeopardising” the integrity of the electoral process.

The bureau said it had also received complaints about personal data privacy, as well as organisers’ vow to veto the government’s annual budget if they secure a majority in the legislature. It warned such a move could violate the offence of subversion under the Beijing-enforced security law.

“The government is committed to ensuring that public elections are held in an open, fair and honest manner. If anyone is found to have committed acts of deceit or violated any law during the electoral process, the government will handle the case in a serious manner and there shall be no tolerance,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Tai has denied advocating unlawful electoral strategies.

democrats pro democracy 35+ legco legislative council primary election 2020 september au nok hin andrew chiu benny tai
Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

The criticisms came a few hours after organisers revealed the preliminary results of the primary election, after counting 590,000 votes cast via a mobile app. Localist candidates are leading across different constituencies, while some incumbent legislators and long-standing opposition figures trailed behind.

The number of shortlisted candidates for some constituencies has yet to be confirmed as organisers continue to count paper ballots. Based on the different coordination policies, some who failed to meet the vote threshold have announced their withdrawals from the election.

“I have no regrets over the primaries results and will support each shortlisted candidate,” Barrister Lawrence Lau wrote on Facebook. He ranked fifth in the Kowloon West constituency, which will likely send four candidates and their nomination lists only.

Hong Kong Island – click to view
RankCandidatePolitical affiliation/ public roleNumber of electronic ballots received
1Ted HuiDemocratic Party, current lawmaker27,357
2Tiffany YuenSouthern District Councillor19,629
3Fergus LeungCentral and Western District Councillor14,601
4Tat ChengCivic Party, Eastern District Councillor10,889
5Andy ChuiEastern District Councillor7,800
6Clarisse YeungWan Chai District Council Chairperson5,571
7Michael PangSouthern District Councillor 2,841

Kowloon West – click to view
RankCandidatePolitical affiliation/ public roleNumber of electronic ballots received
1Jimmy ShamSocial League of Democrats, Sha Tin District Councillor24,144
2Sunny Cheung/16,320
3Claudia MoHong Kong First, current lawmaker8,801
4Frankie FungPeninsular Commons7,493
5Kalvin HoHong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, Sham Shui Po District Councillor6,933
6Lawrence LauSham Shui Po District Councillor 5,967
7Helena WongDemocratic Party, current lawmaker3,765
8Nathan Lau/ 1,358
9Jeffrey Andrews/1,090
Kowloon East – click to view
RankCandidatePolitical affiliation/ public roleNumber of electronic ballots received
1Joshua Wong/30,047
2Jeremy TamCivic Party, current lawmaker22,061
3Kinda LiKwun Tong District Councillor 14,847
4Tam Tak-chiPeople Power, 10,304
5Wu Chi-waiDemocratic Party, current lawmaker9,432
7Sze Tak-loyHong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, Wong Tai Sin District Councillor955
New Territories West – click to view
RankCandidatePolitical affiliation/ public roleNumber of electronic ballots received
1Eddie ChuCurrent lawmaker48,479
2Sam CheungTuen Mun District Councillor34,958
3Wong Ji-yuet/22,337
4Ng Kin-waiYuen Long District Councillor20,249
5Andrew WanDemocratic Party, current lawmaker17,828
6Kwok Ka-kiCivic Party, current lawmaker12,827
7Carol NgLabour Party10,446
8Roy TamNeo Democrats, Tsuen Wan District Councillor4,731
New Territories East – click to view
RankCandidatePolitical affiliation/ public roleNumber of electronic ballots received
1Gwyneth Ho/26,256
2Ventus LauHong Kong Civil Assembly Team26,216
3Alvin YeungCivic Party, current lawmaker24,303
4Ray ChanPeople Power, current lawmaker16,566
5Owen Chow/16,508
6Lam Cheuk-tingDemocratic Party, current lawmaker14,012
7Gary FanNeo Democrats9,764
8Hendrick Lui/9,590
9Leung Kwok-hungLeague of Social Democrats8,944
10Mike Lam/5,239
11Ricky OrCommunity Alliance, Sai Kung District Councillor1,436
12Lee Chi-yung/ 286
District Council (Second) click to view
RankCandidatePolitical affiliation/ public roleNumber of electronic ballots received
1Roy KwongDemocratic Party, current lawmaker258,575
2Lester ShumTseun Wan District Councillor124,659
3Henry WongYuen Long District Councillor70,611
4James ToDemocratic Party, current lawmaker45,596
5Lee Yue-shunEastern District Councillor10,260
Health services sector – click to view
RankCandidateNumber of electronic ballots received
1Winnie Yu2,165
2Michael Felix Lau457
3Joseph Lee186
4Yuen Wai-kit48

Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.