On Thursday China’s parliament approved a resolution to impose sweeping changes on Hong Kong’s electoral system which is ultimately aimed to ensure that mainland loyalists are in firm control of running the city.
The new requirement of “patriotism” to run for Hong Kong’s legislature means the likelihood that future elections will merely be a competition among candidates over who is more ‘loyal’ to Beijing, rather than running based on bettering the city.
It will in essence give a powerful already largely pro-Beijing election committee oversight to vet candidates for office based on how “pro-China” they are, effectively choking off any opposition hopes for breathing space in the city’s government. Their new powers over the Legislative Council (LegCo) which is to also include electing many its members will automatically dilute the number directly elected by the public.
Citing the further implications of what this will mean moving forward, and how blanket category of “patriotism” will be used to weed out any candidates for either the chief executive or a law-making seat, CNBC notes:
Hong Kong Secretary for Mainland and Constitutional Affairs Erick Tsang has defined patriotism as “holistic love” for China, including the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
Beijing had promised universal suffrage as an ultimate goal for Hong Kong in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
Most pundits are in agreement it marks the beginning of the end for the “one country, two systems” agreement with the UK which had been in effect since 1997.
In unveiling China’s parliamentary approval, Premier Li Keqiang used the occasion while addressing the National People’s Congress (NPC) to warn the world not to interfere. He said China has committed to “resolutely guard against and deter” any meddling by external powers.
#HongKong election changes wiping out the opposition from official politics in the city being voted on at the closing session of the National People’s Congress. It was tight: In favour 2895, abstained 1 and against zero. #China pic.twitter.com/BOmRpZJFWk
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) March 11, 2021
And NPC vice-chairman Wang Chen justified the overhaul by blaming the largescale protests and clashes with police – particularly surrounding last summer’s national security law rollout – by pro-democracy activists on flaws and “loopholes” in the election system.
The vice-chairman said “the rioting and turbulence that occurred in Hong Kong society reveals that the existing electoral system has clear loopholes and deficiencies”. He argued that “risks in the system” must be removed to ensure “patriots” were in charge.