“To bar anyone from running in elections purely because of their peaceful political stance is a violation of their basic human rights to stand for elections,” Ms. Wang said. “The Beijing and Hong Kong governments have redoubled efforts to undermine the already limited electoral rights people have in Hong Kong.”
Demosisto advocates that a referendum be held to determine Hong Kong’s future after 2047, the year when China’s promise to allow the city civil liberties and considerable autonomy expires.
China and the Hong Kong government have staunchly opposed any suggestion that the city, a former British colony that was handed back to China in 1997, might be allowed to decide its own future. China’s president, Xi Jinping, visiting Hong Kong in July on the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, warned against crossing the “red line” of undermining China’s sovereignty.
Demosisto was founded by Joshua Wong and other young activists after the massive street protests they helped lead in 2014, calling for freer elections. The party has gotten substantial public support, particularly from young people, amid fears that Hong Kong’s autonomy is already fading and that Beijing is paring away its civil liberties.
Some local observers said Ms. Chow’s disqualification seemed to indicate a toughening standard for participation in government by a broad range of democracy campaigners, not just those who have called for outright independence.
The chairman of Demosisto, Nathan Law, was allowed to run for the Legislative Council in 2016, despite his support for the party’s referendum proposal. Mr. Law won the election, but he and other pro-democracy legislators were later removed from office because they had signaled defiance of Beijing while being sworn in.
In August, Mr. Law and Mr. Wong were imprisoned over their roles in the 2014 protests, known as the Umbrella Movement. They were freed on bail pending an appeal of their sentences at the city’s highest court.