Hong Kong legislature supports Beijing ‘s political reform China News

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Changes approved in an unopposed body reduce the number of directly elected seats and will freeze most critics in China.

Hong Kong’s unopposed legislature has approved the largest overhaul of its political system since the British government, a decisive step in asserting Beijing’s authority over the autonomous city.

The measures were approved on Thursday with 40 votes in favor and only two against. The pro-Beijing government has not faced any opposition to the legislature since last year, when China disqualified some pro-democracy politicians and others resigned in protest.

The changes will reduce the proportion of seats in the legislature that will be filled with direct elections from half to less than a quarter. A new body will be set up to look after the candidates and to prevent them from being considered insufficiently patriotic towards China.

“Those approximately 600 pages of legislation are reduced to just a few words: Patriots rule Hong Kong,” said Peter Shiu, a pro-Beijing lawmaker.

Most of the changes were announced by China in March, although later Hong Kong authorities provided more details, such as redrawing the boundaries of the constituency and criminalizing calls to leave blank ballots.

Chinese authorities have said the election shake-up aims to get rid of the “gaps and shortcomings” that threatened national security during the 2019 anti-government riots and ensure that only “patriots” run the city.

The legislature will increase from 90 to 70 seats. The number of seats occupied by direct elections will be reduced from 20 to 35. An electoral committee will occupy forty seats, which is also responsible for electing the chief executive.

The new verification committee empowered to disqualify candidates will work with national security authorities to ensure that the faithful in Beijing are loyal.

Elections for the election committee are scheduled for Sept. 19 and for the legislature three months later. The committee will elect a chief executive on March 27, 2022.

Hong Kong executive chairwoman Carrie Lam has not made it clear whether she will run for re-election. In 2019, it faced the most violent and violent wave of anti-government protests since the transfer of the British government in 1997, after proposing a bill to allow extraditions to mainland China.

Beijing had promised universal suffrage as Hong Kong’s ultimate goal in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which also states that the city has broad autonomy from the Chinese government.

Proponents of democracy and Western countries say the political overhaul is moving the city in the opposite direction, leaving the democratic opposition the most limited space it has had since delivery.

Since China enacted a national security law in 2020 to criminalize what it considers subversion, secessionism, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces, most pro-democracy activists and politicians have been caught by it or arrested by others. reasons.

On Thursday, separately, Hong Kong police banned next month’s eve marking the deadly crackdown on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the second year in a row that authorities refused permission.

The Hong Kong Alliance, which has been organizing the annual vigil for more than 30 years, said police cited the continuation of the coronavirus pandemic in its denial.

“We will continue to fight for the right to cry legally on June 4,” the alliance said, adding that it planned to appeal.





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