China to reduce proportion of directly elected lawmakers in Hong Kong

The Chinese parliament this week is preparing to pass a draconian new election law in Hong Kong that will drastically reduce the proportion of democratically elected lawmakers and consolidate President Xi Jinping’s grip on the territory.

The move will effectively end decades of democratic development in Hong Kong and comes less than a year after the National People’s Congress imposed a national security law on the city, under which dozens of pro activists -democracy were indicted. subversion and other crimes against the state carry long prison terms. The AFN began its annual session in Beijing on Friday and will officially unveil the new electoral law when it concludes on Thursday.

Half of the 70 seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council are directly elected by geographic constituencies. The others are chosen by the industrial sectors whose representatives overwhelmingly support Beijing. The formula has helped ensure that pro-democracy candidates, who regularly capture 60% of the popular vote, typically hold no more than 40% of the chamber.

But Chinese officials say new guarantees are needed to ensure that only people Beijing considers “patriots” run Hong Kong’s government, legislature and justice after pro-democracy protests and riots. rocked the territory in 2019. “The protests have gone too far,” said Hong Kong member pro-Beijing establishment. “Hong Kong has lost the confidence of China.”

According to people familiar with the AFN’s deliberations, the new electoral law will expand the legislature to 90 seats, with as few as 20 percent chosen through direct elections.

Wang Chen, vice president of the AFN, also confirmed that anyone who hopes to run for legislative seat must be nominated by the predominantly pro-Beijing “electoral committee” that selects the Hong Kong general manager. The committee, Wang added, would also elect “a relatively large share” of representatives in the extended legislature.

“This will give Beijing even more control,” said Simon Cartledge, author of a book on the territorial political system. “But I don’t see what he’s doing to address the governance problem that is at the heart of Hong Kong’s problems – that an unaccountable government is struggling to find answers to meet Hong Kong’s needs.”

Under the “one country, two systems” formula intended to guarantee Hong Kong’s autonomy in all areas except defense and foreign affairs, the Chinese government has pledged to “progress gradually and in an orderly manner” towards direct elections for all legislative seats as well as for the territory. General manager.

Leung Chun-ying, managing director of Hong Kong from 2012 to 2017, told local media over the weekend that Beijing had decided “enough is enough”, but that it would still be ready to move on. universal “term” suffrage under the new law. “The overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system can put the minds of the central government and all of our compatriots at ease,” Leung said.

Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Beijing’s year-long crackdown on the territory “reflects Xi’s hard line on areas where the Chinese Communist Party still has no total domination ”.

Addressing Inner Mongolia AFN delegates over the weekend, Xi said Beijing’s guidelines to prioritize Mandarin Chinese over Mongolian language teaching must be adhered to. The directive triggered widespread protests last year by ethnic Mongolian residents of the region.

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