Beneath her dewy, fresh-faced look and somewhat bashful smile, Agnes Chow Ting, 21, is a battle-hardened political savant as far as young Hongkongers go. The pro-democracy activist was active in a campaign six years ago to force the government to retract a plan to introduce compulsory national education in schools. In 2014, she was at the front lines of the Occupy protests seeking greater democracy. Recently, she renounced her UK citizenship and put her studies at Baptist University on hold – all in the name of becoming the city’s youngest-ever lawmaker. Chow was gunning to win the Hong Kong Island seat in the upcoming Legislative Council by-election, where four seats need to be filled. But last Saturday, she faced her biggest setback yet.
Election authorities declared her ineligible to run on the grounds that her political party, Demosisto, had called for “self-determination” for the city, sparking a political storm.
The government official tasked to oversee the upcoming poll justified her decision by citing Beijing’s interpretation of the city’s mini-constitution in 2016, that made improper oath-taking and failure to accept the city as an inalienable part of China punishable by disqualification from Legco.