China approves overhaul of Hong Kong political system: reports | Civil Rights News
The radical changes are the most profound since the territory’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.
China has approved a radical and controversial overhaul of Hong Kong’s political system that will reduce the number of directly elected seats in the territory’s mini-parliament and create a vetting committee to approve candidates for election.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the main decision-making body of the mainland’s rubber stamp parliament, approved the 167-0 changes, the South China Morning Post and other Hong media reported on Tuesday. Kong, citing comments from Tam Yiu-chung, the only representative of the territory committee.
The 167 committee members “overwhelmingly applauded” each other after their vote, Tam reported, according to broadcaster RTHK.
China announced the proposals at the AFN meeting in March, arguing that the changes were necessary to “improve” the electoral system and ensure that only “patriots” were able to rule Hong Kong.
According to the plan, the number of directly elected seats in the Legislative Council (LegCo) will increase to 20 in an enlarged assembly of 90 members, while 30 seats will be reserved for “functional constituencies” representing various industries.
The electoral committee that currently chooses the Hong Kong leader will choose 40 representatives, the newspaper said, adding that the committee will no longer include district councilors.
Previously, half of the members of the 70-seat LegCo were elected directly by the public.
A new committee will also be set up to examine all the candidates for the most important elections in the territory. It will have fewer than 10 members and will be chosen by two national security groups – the Committee for the Safeguarding of National Security under the leadership of the Director General of Hong Kong and the Beijing National Security Bureau in Hong Kong, has he added.
Elections to the Territory’s Legislative Council were due to take place last September, but the government has delayed the poll due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When China regained control of Hong Kong from the UK in 1997, it pledged to uphold the territory’s way of life and democratic freedoms for at least 50 years under “one country, two systems”.
In 2019, mass opposition to a law that would have allowed suspects to be returned for trial in mainland China turned into months-long protests for democracy that at times turned violent.
In November of the same year, in the district council elections which were a major test of the political mood in the territory, pro-democracy candidates from Hong Kong swept the plank.