In the latest move to tighten control over Hong Kong, China is pushing for a controversial “patriot” plan to reform Hong Kong’s elections.
Beijing says the goal is to keep “non-patriotic” figures out of Hong Kong’s political power position.
But critics have warned that it marks the end of Hong Kong’s democracy and will eradicate any remaining opposition.
What is the background?
Hong Kong was once under British control, but was returned to China in 1997 under the principle of “one country, two systems.”
It was aimed at protecting certain Hong Kong freedoms not found elsewhere in mainland China, such as freedom of assembly and speech, an independent judicial independence, and some democratic rights.
These freedoms are enshrined in the Basic Law, a mini-constitution of Hong Kong intended to last until 2047.
March 11, “Patriots governing Hong Kong” resolution passed At the National People’s Congress (NPC), Beijing paved the way for amendments to the Annex to the Basic Law.
Later that month, the resolution will pass the NPC’s Standing Committee and may be enacted in Hong Kong within a few weeks.
How does it work?
Details of the plan remain unclear, but Hong Kong media reports suggest some significant changes.
The Legislative Council (LegCo), a candidate for the Hong Kong Parliament, will be nominated by the Election Commission, a powerful pro-Beijing organization that has so far elected only the CEO of the city. It has become.
Future members of parliament will be scrutinized by another review board, so it is easy to ban anyone who is considered critical of Beijing.
The influence of directly elected members will be diminished. In the past, seats were divided into directly elected members of parliament and members of parliament representing special interests such as business, banking, and trade. But now a third group of 40 members has been formed and elected by the Election Commission.
The number of directly elected members will be reduced from 35 to 20. Overall, LegCo’s seating capacity will increase from 70 to 90.
Why is it enacted?
This move appears to be a continuation of China’s plans to tighten control over Hong Kong following recent developments.
In 2019, there was a large anti-democratic movement, some of which became violent. Later that year, the Democratization Promotion Group made significant profits in local parliamentary elections.
Since then, Beijing has passed Controversial National Security Act, This effectively reduced Hong Kong’s autonomy and made it easier to punish demonstrators. Since then, dozens of people have been arrested under this law.
In November 2020, several lawmakers were dismissed as a threat to national security. As a result, democratization promotion lawmakers in almost all cities have resigned.
This development underscores the rapid expansion of Beijing’s influence on the territory and promotes loyalty from all levels of power.
Critics, including the British government, argue that all these changes have effectively undermined the principle of “one country, two systems.”
However, Beijing says it protects sovereignty and rejects what is called “foreign interference” in domestic affairs.