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11 Mar, 2021 10:30

China’s parliament approves proposal to reform Hong Kong’s electoral system with ‘patriots’ pledge

China’s parliament approves proposal to reform Hong Kong’s electoral system with ‘patriots’ pledge

China’s parliament has voted in favor of “improving the electoral system” in Hong Kong, introducing a requirement that will only allow ‘patriots’ to govern Hong Kong if they pledge loyalty to the country’s Communist Party.

The National People’s Congress backed the reforms with 2,895 in favor, no opposition and one abstention, formally passing the draft legislation that had been put forward by the ruling party.

The changes proposed in the legislation will see the Communist Party gain greater influence over the legislative body in Hong Kong, raising the number of lawmakers it appoints by increasing election committee members from 300 to 1,500 and legislative council seats from 70 to 90.

The changes to the electoral system in Hong Kong will only allow ‘patriots’ to govern the city, requiring them to simultaneously pledge their loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, measures that pro-democracy activists have claimed are designed to suppress opposition in the region.

Beijing has defended the new measures as necessary to protect stability in Hong Kong and mainland China, arguing that individuals who aren’t ‘patriots’ might oppose legislation that’s crucial to national security, work with foreign powers and undermine domestic agendas, weakening the nation and strengthening the country’s adversaries.

Also on rt.com Top Chinese official announces reforms that will allow only ‘patriots’ to govern Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, welcomed the backing of the National People’s Congress on Thursday, stating that her administration would like to express its “sincere gratitude to the passage of the decision on improving the electoral system.”

Similarly, parliamentary spokesman Wang Chen praised the move by claiming that it would ensure the city remains “firmly in the hands of forces that are patriotic and love Hong Kong.”

However, pro-democracy individuals expressed concern that the changes will mean elections in the country are not democratic, allowing Beijing to “exert very tight control,” with Bernard Chan, an adviser to Lam, calling it a setback in the city’s development since it returned to Chinese control in 1997.

The UK, which controlled Hong Kong from 1841 to 1997, reacted to the Chinese parliament’s legislative move on Thursday, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab saying that it will “further undermine confidence and trust in China living up to its international responsibilities and legal obligations.”

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