HONG KONG: Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was on Wednesday (Jun 22) denied the chance to stand for election after a court threw out his bid to lower the candidate age limit from 21, as fears mount over China’s influence on the city.
The 19-year-old, who became the face of Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement” for his role in the 2014 pro-democracy protests which brought parts of the city to a standstill, had expressed interest in running for office amid concerns Beijing is tightening its grip.
Residents of the semi-autonomous city can vote from the age of 18, but can only stand for election from 21 – something that Wong has said is unconstitutional.
A Hong Kong court on Wednesday said the issue should be dealt with by lawmakers.
“What should be the proper choice of the minimum age of candidature is obviously a matter of political judgment for the legislature, but not one for the court to make in the name of remedial interpretation,” Judge Thomas Au said in his judgement.
He added that Wong’s “grounds of challenge are not reasonably arguable with a realistic prospect of success”.
Hong Kong was returned to China by Britain in 1997 and is ruled under a “one country, two systems” deal which allows it much greater liberties than seen on the mainland.
But tensions remain high amid fears Beijing’s influence is increasing and freedoms are being eroded.
Wong is due to hear a verdict next month over his part in a protest that triggered the mass rallies at the end of 2014, which called for fully free leadership elections and saw nearly 1,000 people arrested.
He was acquitted earlier this month in another…