By EILEEN NG
HONG KONG (AP) — Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong announced on Sept. 28 plans to contest local elections and warned that any attempt to disqualify him will only spur more support for monthslong pro-democracy protests.
Wong, 22, said that he will run in district council elections in November and that the vote is crucial to send a message to Beijing that the people are more determined than ever to win the battle for more rights.
“Five years ago, we claimed that we will be back and now we are back with even stronger determination,’’ he told a news conference. “The battle ahead is the battle for our home and our homeland.’’
Wong, who has been arrested and jailed repeatedly, said he is aware that he could be disqualified.
Members of the Demosisto party that he co-founded in 2016 have in the past been disqualified from serving and running for office because they advocated self-determination.
He said the political censorship by Beijing showed an erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems’’ framework when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1996.
“If they disqualify me, it will just generate more and more momentum … they will pay the price,’’ he said.
Wong is out on bail after he was rearrested with several other people in August and charged with organizing an illegal rally. It didn’t stop him from going to the U.S., Germany and Taiwan to drum up support for the current protest movement, which started in June over an extradition bill but has since snowballed into an anti-China campaign. The now-shelved bill, which would have sent some criminal suspects for trial in mainland China, is seen as a jarring example of China’s intrusion into the city’s autonomy.
Wong’s activities have made him a target of the Chinese government, which has used him to accuse foreign powers of colluding with anti-China separatists to foment unrest. Wong accused the government of trying to frame prominent activists such as himself as a warning to other protesters but said it would fail because the current movement has no centralized figureheads.