Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images

Organizers say more than 500,000 Hong Kong residents have voted in primary elections held by pro-democracy opposition groups on Saturday and Sunday, despite fears of a government crackdown under Beijing's draconian new national security law, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The primaries, which aren't part of the city's official political process, are intended to whittle down the field of pro-democracy candidates in order to avoid splitting the vote against pro-China ruling politicians in September's legislative elections.

  • One government official said the vote may violate the national security law's ban on secession, subversion and collusion, leading to fears that candidates could be disqualified from the general election.
  • But the larger-than-expected turnout suggests that support for the pro-democracy movement, which has drawn hundreds of thousands of protesters and led to a sweeping victory in district council elections last year, remains strong.

What they're saying: "One day more for our last free election, our new target will be 500,000, which amounts to 30% of votes in pro-democracy camp and 10% of the total registered voter in #Hongkong," tweeted activist Joshua Wong.

  • "With 500,000 HKers casting their ballots amid #Beijing’s threats and sweeping #nationalsecuritylaw, our determination would send a strong message to the world: #Hongkongers will not surrender. No matter how repressive the regime goes against us, we will not bow to tyranny."

Go deeper: What to know about Hong Kong's new security law

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