HK elections showed 'great spirit': dissident artist

Berlin (AFP) –


Victory in community-level elections in Hong Kong showed the "great spirit" of the pro-democracy movement, according to a Chinese dissident cartoonist whose work has been a feature of the protests.

"The result is extraordinary," Badiucao told reporters on Monday during a visit to Berlin where he exhibited some of his politically satirical art in German MP Gyde Jensen's office.

The election showed Hong Kongers were not just fighting for democracy but "also practising it".

"I think that great spirit was shown.... That's how powerful democracy is," said Badiucao, adding that the protests were "a source of hope" for China as a whole.

Badiucao originally comes from Shanghai but is now based in Australia. He says he cannot return to China as he and his family on the mainland have received threats because of his work.

He has been compared to Banksy and, like the British street artist, previously also worked in anonymity until he revealed his identity earlier this year.

One of his most popular cartoons is based on an AFP photograph of a lone protester in a yellow poncho getting hit by pepper spray or water from police.

Another shows the character of Winnie the Pooh, which he uses as a mocking portrayal of Chinese President Xi Jinping, being crushed by a falling Berlin Wall.

In one cartoon, Hong Kong's deeply unpopular leader Carrie Lam is depicted crying crocodile tears.

Lam on Monday vowed to "listen humbly" to voters after the pro-democracy camp scored a crushing victory in elections that revealed broad public support for the protest movement that has stirred months of violence.

Badiucao said protest art like his own had helped inspire protesters by showing Hong Kongers that politicians could be criticised and by providing some relief in an increasingly volatile situation.

"I think not just my art but also other artists' work serve in a way to comfort people's mind -- give it even just a window to breathe -- in a very short moment and they can jump out from this devastating situation," he said.