Hong Kong Electoral Reform: LegCo Passes 'Patriots' Law

China's might will likely overshadow Hong Kong's autonomy China's might will likely overshadow Hong Kong's autonomy

Hong Kong has passed a controversial electoral reform law, aimed at keeping people China deems "unpatriotic" from positions of political power.

The reform will allow a pro-China panel to vet and elect candidates, reducing democratic representation.

Critics warn it is designed to remove all opposition from the city's parliament, allowing Beijing to tighten its control over Hong Kong.

It is the latest measure designed to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong.

Since the electoral reform law was initiated by the Chinese government in March, it has drawn widespread international condemnation, including from the US, the EU and UK.

On Thursday the bill was passed by an overwhelming majority in Hong Kong's parliament, the Legislative Council (LegCo), which has been dominated by pro-Beijing lawmakers since a mass opposition walkout last year.

The bill will be signed into law soon by city executive Carrie Lam, who has said that the new vetting committee will not discriminate against people for their political views, but rather weed out any "non-patriots".

Over the past year a growing number of pro-democracy activists and politicians have been arrested under a separate national security law that came into effect last year.

What are the changes?Candidates for Hong Kong's LegCo are to be nominated by the Election Committee, a powerful body which until now elected only the city's most senior official, the chief executive.

Any prospective MP, member of the Election Committee or candidate for chief executive will be vetted by a separate screening committee, making it easy to bar anyone deemed as being critical of Beijing.

There are also changes to LegCo itself, diluting the influence of directly elected MPs.

While overall seats will increase from 70 to 90, the number of directly elected representatives will fall from 35 to 20.

Forty seats will go to MPs chosen by the Election Committee, while 30 will be given to MPs elected by special interests such as business, banking and trade, which historically are also pro-Beijing.

Source: BBC