On Sunday, about 75% of eligible voters turned up to cast ballots in the Hong Kong election—per the BBC, nearly 3 million people came out, compared to 1.4 million in 2015—and by the time voting was over, anti-government advocates were celebrating a big win. Reuters reports pro-democracy candidates took almost 400 of the 452 seats for district councils that were in play in an election that saw record numbers come out to vote. For comparison, that's four times as many seats as they won in the last election, which a political scientist says is "a political message to the government" and a "big slap in the face" to pro-Beijing forces. That message is seen as especially directed toward Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who spurred months of protests, sometimes violent ones, after introducing a bill allowing extradition to China; she withdrew that bill in September.
In a statement, Lam notes she "respects the election results" and recognizes "people's dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society." She says her government "will listen to the opinions of members of the public humbly and seriously reflect." The head of one of Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy parties sees it as a watershed moment: "There has been a very deep awakening of the Hong Kong people," he tells the New York Times. Although China hasn't offered an official statement yet, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, per the BBC: "No matter what happens, Hong Kong is a part of China." (Read more Hong Kong stories.)