Former Hong Kong student leader and pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been barred from contesting in the district council elections to be held in November. The Hong Kong administration said on Tuesday Wong was barred as he did not change his stance on the self-ruled city's independence.
Wong, who said he does not support the option of independence, added that the city administration was acting under the directives of Beijing. "The candidate cannot possibly comply with the requirements of the relevant electoral laws, since advocating or promoting 'self-determination' is contrary to the content of the declaration that the law requires a candidate to make to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR," the government said in a press release.
Wong, 22, has been a thorn in China's side ever since he emerged as the face of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014. The student was earlier convicted of charges relating to the "umbrella movement" that paralysed the city in 2014. Again in 2016 July, he was convicted for leading mass pro-democracy protests. He was found guilty of illegitimate assembly and climbing into the Civic Square, a Hong Kong government complex.
Wong had also founded a political party known as Demosisto. In 2016, Thailand denied Wong permission to enter the country, reportedly at China's behest.
Hong Kong has been paralysed for the last four months. The protests started when the city administration mooted a law earlier this year under which suspects can be extradited to other countries including mainland China. Citizens of Hong Kong, which was a former British colony feared that the new law would completely alter the "one country, two systems" principle which ensured they enjoyed freedoms seldom seen in China.
The draft legislation has been suspended but the protests that began in mid-June have not subsided. The "one country, two systems" formula permits Hong Kong freedoms not available on the mainland such as an independent judiciary. Beijing, however, has rejected claims that it is undermining rights in Hong Kong.
Wong said on Tuesday the decision to bar him from running for office was political. "The ban is clearly political driven ... The so-called reason is judging subjectively on my intention to uphold the Basic Law. But everyone knows the true reason is my identity – Joshua Wong is a crime in their mind," he said, according to the South China Morning Post.