The Chinese Communist Party on Thursday, March 11, voted overwhelmingly in favor of a controversial bill, which will increase its control over Hong Kong’s weakened electoral system. This is expected to affect CCP opponents in Hong Kong and those advocating independence from the Party, with absolute restrictions on their ability to participate in politics.
The bill is instrumental in changing Hong Kong’s electoral system, making it virtually impossible for the opposition to affect the outcome of future elections.
On the last day of the annual National People’s Congress (NPC), a total of 2,895 delegates voted in favor of electoral reform with zero against and one abstention.
The electoral reforms will further reduce democratic representation in the former British colony and introduce a mechanism through which the CCP will examine the loyalty of politicians to the CCP and thus ensure that only so-called patriots can govern Hong Kong, that is all opposition to the CCP will be eliminated, reported Fox News.
Currently, half of the 70 seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, known as LegCo, are directly elected by voters. The other half represent industries, trade unions, and professions and are packed with pro-communist regime members.
The CCP will increase the size of the Legislature to 90 seats, add 20 non-democratically elected seats thus reducing the proportion of eligible legislators.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, sympathetic to the CCP, said earlier this week that the city government “welcomes” changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system.
“There are loopholes in the electoral systems, there are also flaws in the systems in Hong Kong,” Lam said after returning from the National People’s Congress in Beijing. “I fully understand that this is not an issue that can be fully addressed by the government.”
“I am glad that the central authorities have again exercised their constitutional powers to help address this problem in Hong Kong,” Lam added.
The new resolution, while not yet passed into law, has sparked outrage from various quarters in the international community.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who in a Twitter commentary called the move, “The latest step by Beijing to hollow out the space for democratic debate in Hong Kong, and further undermine confidence and trust in China living up to its international responsibilities and legal obligations.”
This is the latest step by Beijing to hollow out the space for democratic debate in Hong Kong, and further undermine confidence and trust in China living up to its international responsibilities and legal obligations. https://t.co/8oohj0Q4tN
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) March 11, 2021
Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, in the same vein as Raab, called the proposed measures, “The biggest step so far to obliterate Hong Kong’s freedoms and aspirations for greater democracy under the rule of law.”
Benedict Rogers, executive director of Hong Kong Watch, a nongovernmental organization established to monitor conditions of human rights, freedoms, and the rule of law in Hong Kong, said, “Under these reforms the majority of Hong Kongers face permanent political disenfranchisement, with any candidate who offers criticism of Beijing or support for Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracy effectively barred from participation. Of course, most of the democratic slate are now in jail anyway. In Hong Kong, popular public sentiment is being replaced with totalitarianism.”
Rogers urged the British government and the international community to exert pressure and impose measures against the CCP to stop such measures that are destroying the democratic freedoms of the Hong Kong people.