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China cuts share of elected representatives in Hong Kong overhaul

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The adjustments would see the variety of immediately elected representatives fall to twenty from 35 and the dimensions of the legislature enhance to 90 seats from 70 presently

China’s legislature on Tuesday formally authorized sweeping adjustments to Hong Kong’s electoral system that can see a sharply decreased share of immediately elected representatives and a tightening of Beijing’s management within the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

The adjustments, first introduced earlier this month on the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, have been on Tuesday handed by the 167 members of the NPC Standing Committee. President Xi Jinping signed orders to promulgate the amended annexes to Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the structure that has ruled the SAR underneath the “one country, two systems” mannequin since its return to China in 1997, official media reported.

Also learn: The Hindu Explains | What are the protests in Hong Kong all about?

The amendments mark the largest adjustments to Hong Kong’s political system because the handover, and cut back the share of immediately elected representatives in its Legislative Council (LegCo). While beforehand 35 of its 70 members have been immediately elected, that quantity has been decreased by 15.

Now, Hongkongers will solely have the ability to immediately vote for 20 representatives whereas the dimensions of LegCo has been expanded to 90, thereby drastically decreasing the share of elected representatives.  The 70 others will probably be broadly chosen from pro-establishment our bodies. A 1,200-member Election Committee that chooses Hong Kong’s Chief Executive has been expanded by 300 members, and can embody Hong Kong’s consultant to the Communist Party-controlled legislature. It may even select 40 members of LegCo, whereas the remaining 30 will probably be chosen by what are referred to as practical constituencies, representing a spread of trade, commerce and different curiosity teams.

The different massive change is the establishing of a Candidate Eligibility Review Committee “for reviewing and confirming the eligibility of candidates” and a “Committee for Safeguarding National Security” that “will make findings as to whether a candidate for Election Committee member or for the office of Chief Executive meets the legal requirements”. There will be no scope for legally challenging the findings.

District councillors, who are directly elected, will no longer have a place either in the Election Committee or in LegCo. In 2019, the pro-democracy opposition swept district elections in Hong Kong, following which they controlled 90% of the seats. Now, the district councillors will only be involved with local-level civic issues without representation in government.

Pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong have seen the political changes, as well as last year’s national security law that punishes “subversion”, as the most significant changes in the “one country, two systems” model and as dramatically eroding the autonomy enjoyed by the SAR previously. The changes have also all but ended any prospect of realising the demands of the 2019 protest movement for universal suffrage and direct elections to choose the Chief Executive.

The 2019 protests were seen by Beijing as a direct challenge to its authority. Zhang Yong, deputy head of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, told the official Xinhua news agency the changes, including for a candidate review committee, were “to make sure ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’ and forestall anti-China, destabilising parts from coming into the physique of energy of the HKSAR.” “It fixes the loopholes in the electoral system and ensures patriots administer Hong Kong,” he stated. “Whoever elected to manage should be patriots. This is a elementary premise of any political system and electoral system in any nation and area.”

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