Both the Hong Kong and central government have been reluctant to admit defeat after the pro-democracy camp made a near-clean sweep at Hong Kong’s district council elections on Sunday.
Pro-democracy candidates won control of 17 out of the city’s 18 districts. Before that, all districts had been under pro-establishment control since 2015.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Monday that the results were a reflection of the general discontent in the city, but also proof that people want an end to the violence.
She said she would stick to her original plan of opening up a dialogue with the public and addressing social issues.
Critics say her refusal to compromise could spark yet more unrest. Pro-democracy lawmaker Alvin Yeung warned that ignoring the vote would send a message to Hongkongers that peaceful methods don’t work.
Meanwhile, the central government has kept fairly quiet on Sunday’s unexpected outcome. It had initially seemed confident that the elections would draw out pro-establishment voters who it said had been silenced by the protests.
Chinese state media instead focused on the harassment of pro-Beijing candidates, accusing the pro-democracy camp of sabotaging their campaigns. It called the results skewed.
Beijing is facing further troubles as it tries to work out a trade deal with the US, which has just passed a bill that could threaten Hong Kong’s special trade status, and place sanctions on Hong Kong and mainland officials who are found to have violated humans rights laws.