China is expected to make a final decision on changes to Hong Kong’s election rules on Tuesday, with critics saying it will strengthen Hong Kong’s election controls.
The purpose of the change is to allow only “patriotic” persons to run for power.
Critics warn that it marks the end of Hong Kong’s democracy and will keep any opposition away from the city council.
This move means that future MPs will be the first to be scrutinized for loyalty to the mainland.
Beijing first approved plans to change Hong Kong’s election system At the National People’s Congress (NPC) in early March.
Details are currently being set out by the NPC Standing Committee in Beijing before being added to the Annex to the Basic Law, a mini-constitution in Hong Kong.
The plan is to expand the Hong Kong parliament, the Legislative Council (LegCo), from 70 seats to 90 seats.
But most importantly, it envisions a system in which LegCo candidates are scrutinized before they can run, so it is easy to ban politicians who are considered critical of the mainland.
Currently, about half of LegCo’s seats are voted directly by the general public, and some of those seats have been numbers in support of democratization in the past.
The other half is filled with small groups that represent special interests such as business, banking and trade. These sectors are historically already pro-Beijing.
Would you like to rewrite the basic law of Hong Kong?
There is controversy as to whether this is a change in the basic law that enshrines basic freedom. This is an agreement between Britain and China when Hong Kong was returned to the mainland in 1997.
The changes are not in the Basic Law itself, but in its annex, which Beijing has the right to make.
Hong Kong’s Pro-Beijing factions say the change has not changed the constitution, but democracies claim they have.
“Technically, it’s not a change in the basic law,” Ian Chung, a professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, told the BBC.
“However, [affecting] If you have the spirit of having competitive elections and moving towards universal suffrage, that would be the case. “
In November 2020, several opposition lawmakers were disqualified and the entire LegCo opposition resigned.
Such public embarrassment would be far less if future veto powers keep critics away from LegCo.
It is not yet clear when the new law will come into effect, but several local elections are scheduled for 2021.
What is the background?
The delivery agreement between Britain and China gives the territory more freedom than the mainland, and perhaps under the principle of “one country, two systems”, that freedom remains untouched for 50 years until 2047. I guaranteed it.
Since then, Beijing has gradually increased its influence over Hong Kong. Critics claim that China is in breach of the agreement, but Beijing denies it.
After years of anti-democratic movements, the new protests in 2019 escalated into a wave of violence between activists and police, benefiting the opposition in local elections.
In 2020, Beijing passed the controversial National Security Act and added it to the Annex to the Basic Law. This has substantially reduced the autonomy of Hong Kong’s judiciary and made it easier to punish demonstrators.
Since then, a series of critics have been arrested under a life imprisonment law.