One of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy parties has announced it will not take part in upcoming elections after the legislature approved changes ordered by Beijing to overhaul the city’s electoral system, saying the Chinese Communist Party intends to “wipe out dissidents.”
The statement from the League of Social Democrats (LSD), whose leaders are in custody over protest-related offences, was the first such announcement since the Legislative Council passed a bill last week to revamp the system with just two votes against.
The party said on Facebook on Tuesday it would not field candidates in the election for Election Committee members scheduled in September or the LegCo election in December.
The changes will sharply reduce the number of directly elected LegCo seats, from 35 to 20, even though the size of the assembly will be increased from 70 to 90 members. Candidates will have to be nominated by an expanded Election Committee, whose membership will be dominated by pro-Beijing figures and organisations, and vetted by national security police and top government officials.
The overhaul was announced by Beijing in March as a bid to ensure “patriots” govern Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong government said it would ensure stability and prosperity. The changes prompted international condemnation because they sharply reduce the influence of pan-democrats in the system.
Other democratic groups, such as the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, have yet to decide whether they would run in future elections. Democratic Party chair Lo Kin-hei has said that he had been approached by “some people from the pro-establishment camp or from the mainland” to persuade the party to run.
“The democrat camp should recognise the situation. Close to a year of oppression from the Chinese Communist Party shows that the Xi Jinping regime has already ignored any pressure, to wipe out dissidents,” the LSD said in its post.
“With a large number of companions being arrested and jailed, and the voice of the resistance continuously oppressed, how would it be an olive branch that the rulers have held out? How would there be any development that is beneficial to the democratic camp?” the post added, in reference to the reported offer to the Democratic Party.
The party, however, urged people to vote in upcoming elections, to “express their opinion based on their conscience through various elections as the right to vote has yet to be completely suppressed.”
The party’s deputy chairs, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Jimmy Sham, as well as its secretary general Avery Ng, have either been remanded in custody or already sentenced to jail.