Hong Kong (AP) – Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave her clear support Tuesday to electoral reforms that would likely further exclude opposition voices and cement Beijing’s control over the politics of China’s semi-autonomous cities.
Her comments came a day after a senior Beijing official signaled major changes that would come to ensure they were run by patriots, “a clear sign that China intends to no longer tolerate dissenting voices, 23 years after the former British colony surrendered to Chinese rule with a promise to preserve his rights and freedoms for 50 years.
Following China’s imposition of a comprehensive national security law on the city last year, authorities have moved to oust members of the city’s Legislative Council deemed insufficiently loyal enough and amassed veteran opposition leaders on charges including illegal gathering. and cooperation with foreign forces. Critics of the government and Western governments accuse Beijing of turning to its word and effectively ending the framework of a “two systems” for governing the dynamic Asian financial hub.
Lam said the political squabbles and riots in the city, including anti-government protests in 2019 as well as protests in 2014, showed that there were always some people who were more hostile to central authorities in China.
“I can understand that the central authorities are very concerned, they do not want the situation to worsen further in such a way that one country, two systems can not be implemented,” Lam said at a regular news conference.
A day earlier, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao State Council Office, said Hong Kong could only be run by patriots, “excluding those lobbying in other countries for foreign sanctions or troublemakers.” “.
Electoral changes are expected to be discussed and possibly passed at the next few months meeting of the National People’s Congress, the Chinas rubber seal legislature and its advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
They are likely to take the form of a redistribution of votes in the 1,200-member election commission that elects Hong Kong chief executive, which is subject to a veto in Beijing. The commission is made up of voting blocs that aim to represent Hong Kong’s various economic, educational and social sectors, along with its predominantly Beijing-dominated institutions.
An exception are the 117 commission members drawn from the city’s 458 local councilors, most of whom are directly elected by their constituents and tend to be more politically independent. Opposition figures erase the district council election following the 2019 protests, and Beijing authorities have since sought to prevent them from influencing other aspects of the political system.
With all other committee members deemed to be in order Beijing control, speculation has grown that 117 district council votes will be transferred to another bloc, possibly that of Hong Kong representatives at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, ensuring that they follow the Beijing directives.
It remains unclear whether Lam, who is deeply unpopular among the population of Hong Kong, will seek a second five-year term in the poll in the coming years.
Another possibility is for China to close what it calls gaps in the election for members of the Legislative Council, now dominated entirely by pro-Beijing lawmakers after opposition lawmakers massively resigned last year after four were ousted because they were loyal to insufficient to the government. Lam postponed council elections last year, citing concerns over COVID-19, in a move seen largely created to prevent an opposition victory.
Of the 70 council members, half are directly elected from geographical constituencies while the rest are drawn from trade and other special interest groups. Changes may include preventing district counselors from sitting on the body or simply raising demands for loyalty and patriotism above the already strict levels that are now set.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.
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