Political unrest and tension is nothing new across the globe. The United States is no stranger to such upheaval, even in current times. And, while this isn’t exactly the election of 1860 that sprung a separation within a nation, a development in China has stirred a lot of debate, especially in Hong Kong.
A pro-democracy candidate won a recent Hong Kong election, but that was not the story at all. While Alvin Yeung was celebrating his election and pro-Beijing candidate, Holden Chow was mourning his runner-up status, the press chose to focus on a different candidate in general. So, what is so intriguing about Edward Leung of Hong Kong?
Leung garnered fifteen percent of the vote, further cementing his credibility in Hong Kong’s political circle. What makes Leung so different is the party he represents. Leung belongs to the Hong Kong Indigenous, which is a radical party known for its active protests. These protests generally turn violent and lead to riots and arrests. The party’s advocacy of radical change has scared much of China’s voters, but the party has certainly gained the respect of some of the population as well.
Among Hong Kong Indigenous’ beliefs are that the city should be independent from China. The majority of support for this group came after Beijing began to tighten its grip on this particular region. The group rose to fame after 2014 protests concluded without a satisfying resolution with Beijing, as the capital city refused to give any concessions of substance.
As found here, Leung told reporters, “there’s a certain amount of Hong Kong people who support our political belief and means of fighting. The group advocates radical protest methods. It has given us more power to fight against authorities.”
Leung is certainly a man who backs up his words. He is among dozens of people charged with taking part in a public riot sparked by concerns over the city’s disappearing culture. Hong Kong Financial secretary, John Tsang said that these rising political tensions are hurting the growth of the city’s economy.
Tsang is just the latest person of power to speak out against the radical group. Earlier this year, candidates were issued a warning to remind them that Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China. Candidates were asked to uphold this statement in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution here.
Even with political opposition, Leung and his group seem to be getting the support they are looking for. One poll conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, saw 17% of participants say they support the city’s independence after the year 2047. 17% may seem like a miniscule number, but considering that that figure equates to one in six Hong Kongers, Leung’s message is definitely registering.
Will the masses continue their belief in the radical party or will another violent protest be their undoing? The leaders can only hope that their support numbers continue to grow from here on out. And, while Leung and the Hong Kong Indigenous have continued to encountered setbacks like political mandates and arrests, this past election was a huge step forward for the party.