Hong Kong’s parliament approved the largest electoral change in a long time, aiming to consolidate China’s power over the capital.
Soon, citizens will be allowed to directly vote for only 20 parliamentarians in Hong Kong’s parliamentary elections, compared to 35 in the past. The number of parliamentary seats will be increased from 70 to 90, 40 of which will be filled by a committee that will elect the prime minister. Members of the Electoral Commission are elected on September 19, with parliamentary elections to follow after three months.
The law also created a new body that scrutinizes candidates. Anyone who does not demonstrate sufficient patriotism for China will be banned.
Plans prepared in China were passed by 40 votes to 2. The pro-China government in Hong Kong faced little opposition in parliament last year after pro-democracy lawmakers resigned in protest.
The United States condemned the move as undermining Hong Kong’s democratic institutions, political stability, and civic participation. Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken has called on the authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing to release the people accused of under a very strict security law and drop the charges against them.
China says the electoral changes are aimed at removing “loopholes and deficiencies” from the law. This should prevent protests like 2019 and ensure that only “patriots” run the city of 7.5 million.
This is the most drastic reform of the city’s electoral system since 1997, when the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong over to the Communist People’s Republic. And it promised that the capital would enjoy self-rule status for another half-century, but these promises have now been broken, according to Western countries.
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