Chinese AFN to ensure “Patriots” in charge in Hong Kong: official | Civil Rights News

Measures planned by Parliament to “improve” Hong Kong’s electoral system risk further marginalizing pro-democracy lawmakers.

The Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) will discuss a proposal to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure “patriots” rule the territory at its annual meeting in Beijing on Friday, in what may be the biggest blow to democracy in the city since its inception. returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Zhang Yesui, a spokesperson for the AFN, said Thursday that the approval body had the constitutional power to “improve” the Hong Kong system and that the electoral structure should fully apply the principle of “governing patriots. Hong Kong ”.

Hong Kong Cable TV and Now TV, citing anonymous sources, said the changes would include increasing the size of the electoral committee that selects the leader of Hong Kong from 1,200 to 1,500 and the city legislature of 70 to 90 seats.

District councilors would also be removed from the committee that chooses the chief executive, while a new body would be put in place to review all candidates for elected office and ensure they are “patriots.”

AFN spokesman Zhang Yesui told reporters ‘improvements’ needed to Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure ‘patriots’ were in the driver’s seat [Yew Lun Tian/Reuters]

A spokesperson for the Hong Kong government said any change in the electoral system was the “prerogative” of the Beijing government.

“It is only through ‘patriots ruling Hong Kong’ that the central government’s overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR can be effectively implemented, the constitutional order as spelled out by the Constitution and the Basic Law be effectively implemented. safeguarded and the long-term stability and security of Hong Kong can be effectively implemented. reached, ”he said in a statement released Thursday evening.

The reforms are likely to strike a blow for politicians and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong who have come under pressure since China imposed a widely worded national security law on the territory in the wake of the NPC of the last year.

Prominent pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai is currently in prison awaiting trial under the law for “foreign collusion” while 47 people accused of “subversion” for holding primary elections to choose their candidates for a legislative election who was later delayed, were on Thursday was also remanded in custody and has mostly refused his release on bail.

The legislative elections – already postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic – will likely be postponed until September 2022, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources.

‘Reverse Democratization’

Hong Kong, which was previously a British colony, had been guaranteed that its generalized freedoms, extended autonomy and capitalist way of life would continue for at least 50 years under the so-called “one country, two systems” model when China regained control.

Beijing has also pledged universal suffrage as Hong Kong’s ultimate goal in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, but over the past 20 years it has undermined the land’s freedoms.

The AFN’s initiatives are widely expected to deprive the Hong Kong Democratic camp of any hope of winning a majority in the City’s Legislative Council, where pro-democracy candidates have traditionally performed better than pro-democracy groups. Beijing in the 50% of the seats in the chamber which are elected by direct suffrage.

Anger over China’s tightening grip spilled over in 2019 after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam proposed a bill on extradition to the mainland. Massive opposition to the law brought millions to the streets at the start of months of protests, which at times turned violent.

Hong Kong’s elected lawmakers (left to right) Dennis Kwok, Alvin Yeung, Kenneth Leung and Kwok Ka-ki, were disqualified from the Legislative Council in November last year after being deemed “ unpatriotic ” under of a law passed by China. Disqualification prompted massive resignation of Democratic lawmakers [File: Billy HC Kwok/Bloomberg]

Political scientist Sonny Lo told Reuters news agency that the measures planned by the AFN would lead to “reverse democratization”.

“Democrats will be doomed to be a permanent minority in this system,” he said.

“It will be a bitter lesson for them… It goes back and it will destroy all democratic progress” of the last years of colonial rule and the first 20 years of Hong Kong under Chinese rule.

While critics say the security law was used to crush dissent and restrict freedoms, officials in Beijing and Hong Kong say it helped restore “stability” to the territory following protests from 2019.

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