China’s parliament approves plan to reform Hong Kong’s electoral system

Saturday, 13 Mar, 2021

People who travel to Hong Kong to holiday or for business would now have to consider the city as having the same restricted political freedoms as in mainland China, he said.

A screen shows the voting results of the Hong Kong Electoral Reform at the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) held on March 11, 2021 at the People's Forum in Beijing, China.

He also said there are patriots among the "pan-democratic camp", and that they can still run in the elections and win seats.

A spokesman for China's parliament, Wang Chen, says the decision aims to place the power of governing the city "firmly in the hands of forces that are patriotic and love Hong Kong".

He added that such problems in Hong Kong were not related to democracy, but subversion, which the central authorities must tackle - he also said Beijing could no longer tolerate secessionist rioters in Hong Kong's political system, citing the need for electoral reform.

The actions came after Hong Kong was rocked by massive and sometimes violent protests in 2019 against Beijing's encroachment on the financial hub's unique freedoms.

Although the exact shape of the latest changes is unclear in China's opaque political system, the vote clears the path towards a "qualification vetting system" for the electoral process in Hong Kong.

"Due to ongoing concerns from the USA government about direct communication links between the United States and Hong Kong, we have chose to withdraw our [Federal Communications Commission] application", a Facebook spokesperson said.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven issued a statement on Friday "expressing concerns" in China's Hong Kong situation, which the embassy said violated worldwide law and the basic norms in global relations.

"But in terms of thinking in big political ideas, then Hong Kong is becoming far more like China in terms of its closed and restrictive political system and no tolerance for opposition".

Under the Hong Kong changes, a 1,500-member Election Committee would pick the territory's chief executive and an unspecified "relatively large" number of members of its 90-seat legislature.

In August 2019, Joe Biden, who was preparing to stand in the Democratic presidential primaries, delivered a strong message of support to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters.

A year ago during the parliamentary session, Beijing approved a national security law that effectively criminalised dissent in the financial hub, leading to dozens of arrests.

Beijing has denied the claim and said the plan is vital to promote stability in the city.

On Monday, Ted Hui, a high-profile pro-democracy Hong Kong legislator who fled to Europe past year, arrived in Australia after being granted an exemption from Covid-19 travel rules by the Australian government.

Critics say the changes to the electoral system move Hong Kong in the opposite direction, leaving the democratic opposition with the most limited space it has ever had since the 1997 handover, if any at all.

The new changes virtually eliminate any possibility of the opposition affecting the outcome of Hong Kong's elections.