China approved changes to the electoral rules of Hong Kong, which will strengthen its control over the city. According to the recent changes, the number of directly elected seats in parliament has decreased almost by half, and likely MPs will first assessed by a pro-Beijing committee to ensure their loyalty to mainland China. The government intends to ensure only patriotic statistics can run for positions of power.
Critic analysts warn that it will mean the democracy end, fearing it will remove the presence of all opposition from the city parliament. However, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, said no one-size-fits-all way of doing democracy in the country. Adding the selection committee will not screen people out built on their political views but somewhat eliminate any non-patriots.
Lam further said that as long as the candidates from the city can show loyalty to Hong Kong, pass national security checks and support the Basic Law, they will be allowed to run for election. Furthermore, she says that for people who have different political beliefs, who are more tending towards more democracy, or who have more conservative beliefs, who belong to the right or belong to the left, on condition that they meet these very basic and fundamental requirements, she reveals her thought that they couldn’t run for election.
Rubber-Stamp Parliament first Approved the Changes
The first poll under the latest changes, which will elect members of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, will held in December 2021. The rubber-stamp parliament of Beijing initially passed the plan during the National People’s Congress meeting earlier this month. Yesterday, Chinese state media reported that the top decision-making body of the country, such as the NPC Standing Committee, voted solidly to approve it. So, this compensates the extensions of Hong Long’s mini-construction, the Basic law.
However, the opposition said that the changes in the electoral rules designed to keep anybody who isn’t aligned with Beijing’s rule out of parliament. A former pro-democracy representative, Emily Lau, tells AFP that the whole new system is really humiliating and very unfair. Further, she adds that she thought political conflict could blow up once again on Hong Kong’s streets.
If many people are extremely unhappy inside, all you need is a little trigger, which would spark several people. Moreover, an associate professor of politics at the National University of Singapore, Chong Ja Ian, said that giving power to the police force to supervise who can stand for elections is not usually practicing in systems usually considered democratic in a meaningful sense.
Uncertainty of Future for Pro-Democracy Campaigners
Hong Kong perceived this change coming for some time. Ever since the top legislature of China decided in the middle of this month to reform the electoral system of the city, rumors have been going around about what the reforms in the electoral rules will look like. Furthermore, the pro-democracy camp finds none of them are to be found.
As the electoral reforms became a reality, pro-Beijing supporters celebrated. However, the other side has a different mood, as the pro-democrats face an unclear political future instead of their popular support among voters. Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive, says that Beijing is not banning pro-democracy candidates and that some of them are also loyalists.
However, the head of the biggest pro-democracy party of Hong Kong was not so sure. When reporters asked whether his party would participate in the reformed electoral process, Lo Kin-Hei didn’t give a direct answer – and only requested the residents of the city to keep the faith and strive on.
What are the Reforms, and what do they mean for Hong Kong?
Xinhua, the state news agency, reported a list of electoral reforms which, among other things, influence the way the parliamentary Legislative Council of Hong Kong formed, effectively making it comfortable to ban candidates considered critical of Beijing. Additionally, the number of directly elected members of LegCo falls from thirty-five to twenty, while the party’s size increased from seventy to ninety seats – thus weakening the influence of constitutionally elected politicians.
All prospective candidates of LegCo will now have to go over two rounds of vetting before they can run for the seat by the influential pro-Beijing Election Committee along with a new screening committee. Lam said that would comprise of background checks by the national security department and the police. Moreover, the changes come some months after many opposition legislators were disqualified, which finally led to the whole opposition in LegCo resigning.