Hong Kong: China Approves 'Patriotic' Plan To Control Elections

Critics say the electoral reforms will effectively wipe out any remaining opposition when enacted Critics say the electoral reforms will effectively wipe out any remaining opposition when enacted

China's legislature has approved a resolution to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system - its latest move to tighten control over the city.

The "patriots governing Hong Kong" resolution was passed at the National People's Congress (NPC) on Thursday.

It will reduce democratic representation and allow a pro-Beijing panel to vet and elect candidates.

The former British colony was handed back to China in 1997 under a model called "one country, two systems".

Under the deal, which gave the territory freedoms not available in mainland China, Hong Kong also had its own mini-constitution and an elected parliament.

The latest Chinese move follows a series of measures that have tightened Beijing's grip on Hong Kong, including the passing of a national security law and a crackdown on activists and opposition politicians.

Detailed legislation will now be drafted and could be enacted in Hong Kong within the next few months.

The UK says it will "hollow out the space for democratic debate" in Hong Kong.

Other critics say they will effectively wipe out any remaining opposition.

Almost 24 years after China took back control of Hong Kong from Britain, this was the moment it remade the free-wheeling, sometimes unruly territory's political system in its own image. The symbolism couldn't have been starker. Seated in the Great Hall of the People, 2,895 delegates voted in favour of the changes, none against. Whether the one abstention was a miscue on the electronic voting buttons, or a lone act of defiance, we'll never know.

There have been other milestones in recent years at which observers have pronounced the death of Hong Kong. The national security law, for example, has all but wiped out the ability to express dissent on the streets.

Once again, China is arguing that this reform - with its political loyalty test for candidates - is necessary to ensure stability. But critics will argue it abolishes another fundamental underpinning of the city's special freedoms - the ability to channel dissent through the political process itself.

The pro-democracy protests, although sometimes violent, were accompanied by mass popular support with as many as two million taking peacefully to the streets. In late 2019, the democrats won a landslide in Hong Kong's local elections, the city's only truly democratic ballot. That may have spooked Beijing more than barricades and petrol bombs. But is its victory now complete? "It is very sad," the former Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau told me. "But I insist this doesn't mean the game is over for Hong Kong because the fight will go on."

Source: CNN