Chinese papers avoid details of Hong Kong's democratic election landslide

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Major news outlets in China have largely avoided detailed reporting of district council election results in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy candidates scored a landslide victory that some say amounted to support for anti-government protests.

FILE PHOTO: Pro-democratic winning candidates gather outside the campus of the Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China November 25, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

Instead, some reports in China’s tightly controlled media offered bare-bones facts about Sunday’s elections, including how many seats were up for grabs and how many people had voted.

The website of Caixin, a leading economic and financial news provider with a reputation for hard-hitting reports, published a list of districts, candidates and vote counts but did not offer any context.

However, the tone in editorials was firm.

The China Daily newspaper said on Tuesday the result “marks a setback for Hong Kong’s democratic development, as the results were skewed by the illegal activities of the opposition camp to the benefit of their candidates”.

“Violent intimidation tactics” were used to “reduce the exposure and visibility of pro-establishment candidates”, it said, including damaging candidates’ offices, cutting their phone lines and internet and removing campaign posters and banners.

“The election was further evidence, if any were needed, that the pressing issue in Hong Kong is upholding the rule of law and restoring order as soon as possible,” it said.

The Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said in an online commentary on Monday the election had taken place before the “thick smoke of a ‘black terror’” and violence had dissipated but had come off peacefully thanks to the police.

“Ending violence and chaos and restoring order remain the most pressing task facing Hong Kong,” it said.

Its print edition highlighted on Tuesday the concept of “one country, two systems”, through which Beijing has ruled the city since 1997 and neighboring Macau, which returned to Chinese rule in 1999.

“‘One country, two systems’ is a complete concept that demands an exact grasp of the relationship between ‘one country’ and ‘two systems’. ‘One country’ is the root, and only with deep roots can there be many leaves; ‘one country’ is the base, and only with a solid base can the branches thrive,” it said.

The governments of Hong Kong and Macau and the promotion of democracy “in an orderly manner” must be supported, it said, while at the same time “we must also support the integration of Hong Kong and Macau into overall national development”.

State news agency Xinhua also noted attacks on and harassment of some “patriotic and Hong Kong-loving candidates”, saying such acts had created an unfair election process of which others took advantage.

“To prevent Hong Kong from being swallowed up by violence, and to prevent Hong Kong from sinking further, all sectors of Hong Kong society need to work together to overcome the horrors of violence and chaos as soon as possible and return to the track of rule of law and reason,” it said on Monday.

Hu Xijin, editor of the hawkish Global Times tabloid, said in a social media post it was “not a good omen for Hong Kong” that 90 new democratic district councillors were “playing politics” by calling on the police to leave a university that has been besieged by protesters for more than a week and urging the government to heed their demands.

Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Paul Tait