India Flash Bulletin
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Under mounting pressure from China, Hong Kong's Prominent Pro-Democracy Civic Party dissolves itself

Following a referendum among party members, one of Hong Kong's largest democratic parties said on Saturday that it will dissolve itself, joining a growing list of groups that have done so in response to mounting pressure from China.

A national security regulation enforced by China and changes to the voting system that have mainly excluded Democrats from local politics have hurt Hong Kong's opposition in recent years.

According to Alan Leong, head of the Civic Party, the party's breakup was “writing on the wall” since no one would step forward. At a special general meeting, none of its members put up candidates for executive posts.

With one member abstaining, 30 of the 31 members decided to dissolve the group.

Professionals, attorneys, and intellectuals made up the majority of the party's membership when it was created in 2006. At its height, it was the second-largest pro-democracy party in the city after the Democratic Party and secured six seats in the Hong Kong legislature at the 2012 elections.

“The world is always evolving. History shall judge. The Civic Party is saying goodbye to Hong Kong today. We hope that Hong Kong residents would remain positive and not take things too seriously. Live honestly and have faith in the future, urged senior lawyer Leong in a statement.

The party, one of Hong Kong's few remaining opposition organizations, was seen as a moderate democratic voice that catered to the city's sizable middle-class population.

The broad national security rule that Beijing implemented in the wake of enormous 2019 demonstrations asking for political liberties that were promised to the semi-autonomous territory after its transfer from Britain in 1997, however, led to the subversion charges against some members.

They were charged with taking part in a clandestine primary to choose the best candidates for the parliamentary elections, ensuring that the pro-democracy movement would gain a majority of seats. The primary, according to authorities, was intended to overthrow the government.

The political climate of the city has seen significant changes since the national security bill was approved. More than 200 individuals have been detained for alleged crimes that jeopardize national security, and Hong Kong's voting system was overhauled to guarantee that only “patriots” loyal to China would be allowed to seek office.

Numerous political groups in Hong Kong that supported democracy have already dissolved. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organized the yearly Tiananmen Square vigil to commemorate the 1989 killing of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing by Chinese military, is one of them. Another is the protest organizer Civil Human Rights Front. Over the last three years, the vigil has been outlawed.

Since 2020, there haven't been any significant pro-democracy demonstrations in the city, which had served as a haven for free speech and expression.

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