Hong Kong (AP) — China has significantly reduced the number of seats directly elected by Hong Kong’s parliament, retreating the already plagued democratic movement in the region.
The changes were announced Tuesday after a two-day meeting of China’s Supreme Parliament.
In the new configuration, the parliament will be expanded to 90 seats and only 20 seats will be elected by the public. Currently, half of the 70-seat parliament (35 seats) is directly elected.
The move is part of a two-step effort to govern the opposition and political protests in Hong Kong, which was part of China but had a more liberal political system as a former British colony. China imposed a National Security Act on Hong Kong last year and is renewing its election process this year.
The crackdown will result in months of the 2019 anti-democratic movement, which has taken hundreds of thousands of people to the streets as the government resisted protesters’ demands and became violent.
“It’s a very sad day for Hong Kong. The electoral system has been completely dismantled,” said former Congressman and Democrat Emily Lau.
China’s Supreme Legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, has amended Hong Kong’s constitution to pave the way for change. The Hong Kong government is currently responsible for amending election law and conducting elections.
In the current 70-seat legislature, voters elect half of their members and the other half by constituencies that represent different professions and interest groups. Many of the supporters are pro-Beijing and now account for the majority of the legislature.
The new organization will have 20 elected members, 30 of whom will be elected by the constituency and 40 of whom will be elected by the Electoral Commission.
The committee, which grows from 1,200 to 1,500, is dominated by supporters of Beijing’s central government.
Another committee has also been set up to consider the eligibility of Hong Kong candidates, ensuring that Hong Kong is governed by “patriots” in the words of the central government.
Hong Kong’s political opponents, who advocate strengthening democracy, see change as part of a broader effort to make them absent.
“Under this new system of very oppressive and restrictive, self-respecting individuals do not want to participate, so they intend to get rid of their opposition,” Lau said.
In part, it comes down to the definition of patriotism. Opposition parties sought to block legislation by filibusting major legislative committees for several months and blocking legislative proceedings.
Beijing, which prioritizes political stability, sees these actions as unfairly interfering with Hong Kong’s rule and wants to keep these parties away from the government.
According to a statement from the Hong Kong Macau Secretariat in Beijing, Hong Kong’s National Security Law provides a solid legal basis for protecting national security, and electoral reform is the “one country, two systems” of the city. Provide “institutional guarantee”. Create a “system” framework so that only “patriots” dominate Hong Kong.
The statement also said that the election changes would make the relationship between city leaders and parliament smoother and more effectively resolve “the various deep-seated contradictions and problems that have plagued Hong Kong for a long time.” It was.
In mid-March, the National People’s Congress put a rubber stamp on a proposal to approve the Standing Committee to amend the basic law, the constitution that has governed Hong Kong since the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997. I did.
Moritsugu reported from Beijing.