Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens queued up to vote over the weekend in what the Chinese-led city’s opposition camp says is a symbolic protest vote against strict national security law directly imposed by Beijing.
Unofficial polls will decide who the strongest pro-Democrat candidates will participate in the Legislative Council elections in September, when these candidates aim to ride a wave of anti-Chinese anti-Chinese sentiment to take control of pro-Beijing rivals for the first time. time.
While the primaries are reserved for voters of the opposition camp, observers are watching closely saying that the participation will serve as a test for a general sentiment on the law, which, according to critics, seriously undermines the freedoms of the city. .
“A high turnout will send a very strong signal to the international community that we, the people of Hong Kong, will never give up,” said Sunny Cheung, 24, one of the young aspiring Democrats who lobbied and delivered speeches. strain. “And that we are always with the democratic camp, we always support democracy and freedom.”
Defying warnings from a senior Hong Kong official that voting could be contrary to national security law, young and old residents gathered in more than 250 polling stations across the city, occupied by thousands of volunteers.
Long queues formed on the streets, in housing estates and in businesses turned into polling stations, with people voting by phone after verifying their identity.
Organizers said 500,000 people voted in the city of 7.5 million late Sunday afternoon. The turnout is expected to be announced on Monday morning after two full days of voting this weekend.
The law punishes what China widely describes as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, up to life imprisonment, and allows mainland security agents to officially operate in Hong Kong to the first time.