Hackers have taken down a civil referendum asking Hong Kong residents to vote for an upcoming rule.

If Hong Kongers lived in a democracy, who would they choose to represent them?

That was the question in a civil referendum published online by Robert Chung of The University of Hong Kong. Now, we may never know the answer. Hackers have taken the site down.

Chung told Reuters that about 14,000 people had responded to his poll before it was hit with “high level cyberattacks.”

Hong Kong residents have no choice in who rules them. A 1,20- strong election commission, brimming with Beijing loyalists, will choose the next chief executive for the city of 7 million this Sunday.

Chung has been the subject of scathing critiques from mainland propaganda outfits before. In December of last year, he was denounced as a “political fraudster” holding “evil intentions” by pro-Beijing newspapers after releasing a survey showing a majority of Hong Kongers did not identify as mainland Chinese.

Tensions between Hong Kong and the mainland have been especially taught in recent months. In January, residents of the city-state, which is ruled by but still largely autonomous from Beijing, angrily protested comments by a Chinese television host, who called the city’s residents “dogs” and “bastards.”

Hong Kong’s flirtations with democracy have long worried Beijing. Thousands of protesters are expected to hit the city’s streets on Sunday, angry that they have no choice in the vote for their city’s next leader.

Who’s behind the hacking attack? We’ll likely never know. But Chinese hackers have broken into the Pentagon. It wouldn’t take much for Beijing’s online soldiers to take down a civil referendum.

Image by BarbaraWilli

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