Hong Kong‘s parliament has approved the biggest change in the electoral system in a long time, designed to perpetuate China’s authority over the metropolis.
Citizens will soon be allowed to elect only 20 parliamentarians directly in parliamentary elections in that metropolis, whereas there were previously 35. The number of parliamentary seats will be increased from 70 to 90, of which 40 will be filled by a committee which also elects the Head of Government. The members of the electoral committee are elected on 19 September, the parliamentary elections follow three months later.
The law also creates a new body that takes a closer look at candidates. Anyone who shows insufficient patriotism for China will be banned.
The plans prepared in China were adopted by 40 votes in favour and 2 against. The pro-Chinese government in Hong Kong has had little opposition in parliament over the past year, after prodemocratic representatives had resigned in protest.
The United States condemned
move as an undermining of Hong Kong‘s democratic institutions, political stability and citizen participation. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken called on the authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing to release people who have been charged under a very strict security law and to drop the charges.
China argues that the electoral changes are intended to remove “loopholes and shortcomings” from the law. This should prevent protests like in 2019 and ensure that only “patriots” control the city of 7.5 million inhabitants.
This is the most radical reform of the electoral system in the city since 1997, when the United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to the Communist People’s Republic. It promised that the metropolis would have an autonomous status for another half a century, but according to Western countries, these promises have now been broken.