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Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Contingent Gains Strength

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp wins 114 seats of the 800-member Election Committee of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, which qualifies them to have a representative to compete for the Chief Executive position in the upcomng election.

December 10, 2006, marked the close of elections for members of the Election Committee of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Of the 137 candidates recommended to the Election Committee by the pro-democracy camp, 114 won.

This was the first time that the pro-democracy camp, made up of the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, has ever won more than 100 seats on the Election Committee. It was a significant victory because, by law, one must receive at least 100 nominations from the Election Committee to be eligible to run for chief executive.

A Huge Victory

According to The Epoch Times, with 114 newly elected pro-democracy members, plus the 20 already on the Election Committee, the pro-democracy camp took control of 134 seats. It is almost certain that Alan Leong, who was recommended by the Civic and Democratic parties to run for the Chief Executive office, will earn the needed 100 nominations to become an official nominee.

Alan Leong of the Civic Party, encouraged by the results, remained optimistic about his nomination, stating, "The election results have two implications: First, it is clear that the people of Hong Kong have shown that they want the election for chief executive to be competitive; and second, those who came out to vote cast a sacred vote for the future of Hong Kong. These two messages are clear and indisputable."

The results of the voting came as a surprise for the pro-democracy camp. Mr. Ronny Tong of the Civic Party said, "The election system is so distorted that it was very difficult for us to have a fair election. Even under these circumstances, we made such a great achievement. We must thank our constituents and apologize to them for not being confident in the beginning."

But Mr. Sen Yang, another democracy representative, criticized the so-called small-circle election, "It is not fair that only 220,000 people are allowed to vote. In a society as mature as Hong Kong, everyone should have the right to vote."

The "Small-Circle Election"

In past years, the people of Hong Kong have asked for a general election for the position of Chief Executive of Hong Kong. But this never became a reality due to suppression by the mainland Chinese Communist Party. The election game was only played by the 800-member Election Committee, which consists of two parts: the current representatives, who are very small in number and dubbed the "small circle," and the new members elected by about 200,000 constituents from various sectors of Hong Kong assigned by the Hong Kong Administration. A majority of those elected were from pro-communist sectors.{mospagebreak}

Anyone who wants to become a formal candidate must first get at least 100 nominations from the Election Committee. The 800 members will then vote to elect the chief executive. This was generally viewed as a way for Beijing to guarantee a pro-Communist Party chief executive to rule Hong Kong, where the "One Country, Two Systems" policy must be applied and can therefore maintain tight control.

According to a Voice of America report by Ya Wei, some analysts have said that, although Alan Leong could run for the election as a formal candidate, the Election Committee, which has always been considered loyal to Beijing, will choose a candidate whom they think will be loyal to Beijing.

Pro-Democracy Camp Breakthrough

According to Dong Xiang, a well-known Hong Kong magazine, although incumbent Chief Executive Donald Tsang will win the election in March 2007, the practice of having only one candidate run for election was brought to an end by the victory of the pro-democracy camp in the Election Committee. There will now be a competitive election.

The magazine disclosed that, before the election, Chinese leaders Hu Jintao and Wu Bangguo had warned Tsang to "take good care of the election," which meant preventing the pro-democracy camp from gaining more than 100 seats on the Election Committee.

Beijing Regime Is Furious

According to Apple Daily, just like what happened in the voting for the Election Committee, the pro-democracy camp won all members in the legal field. However, none of the 12 lawyers from the Hong Kong Bar Association who were supported by the Chinese Communist Party made any inroads in the elections.

An unidentified source told Apple Daily that Beijing felt it lost face on this issue. Beijing was furious about the results of the election. The state-controlled Xinhua News Agency posted election-related news in a very low profile.

Rise of the Pro-Democracy Camp In Hong Kong

In the past, pro-democracy camp candidates have been reluctant to run for election. It was not feasible given the nature of the "small-circle election." It has been hard to move the election process forward while the Chinese Communist Party has controlled the Hong Kong elections.{mospagebreak}

Last year, Anson Chan, the famous former Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration, stepped forward to advocate general elections. She even attended the parade on July 1. Some analysts said that she intended to run for election, but she announced that she would not because, as an analyst conceded, Beijing did not favor her.

For a long time, the pro-democracy camp has made up only a fraction of Hong Kong’s legislative council. The surprising win in the vote for members of the Election Committee is regarded by many analysts as a "rise" of the pro-democracy camp. It may very well be true, as the pro-democracy camp will now play an increasingly important role.

On December 17, 2006, Mr. He Junren was elected president of the Democratic Party. Not long ago, this former vice president was beaten by gangsters allegedly with ties to the Chinese Communist Party. He has vowed to continue his support of mainland China’s human rights and conscience movement. He will also continue to support Alan Leong.

"The Democratic Party will become not only the largest opposition party in Hong Kong, but also the largest opposition party in (mainland) China," said Mr. He.