China approves 'patriotic' plan to control Hong Kong election candidates

Grant Boone
March 12, 2021

The draft decision of the National People's Congress (NPC) to "improve" the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may, on the face of it, appear to be an essay to address the raging movement for democracy.

The measure adds to a crackdown against a protest movement in Hong Kong against Beijing.

Blinken also urged Hong Kong to go ahead with September elections, the city's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam has hinted will be delayed again.

The committee will also be given powers to select many city legislators.

The legislators gathered in the Great Hall of the People burst into sustained applause when the 2,895 to 0 vote tally, with one abstention, was projected onto screens.

China's approval of changes to Hong Kong's electoral system has been condemned by the United States as "a direct attack on Hong Kong's freedoms and democratic processes", but China says it aims to place power "firmly in the hands of forces that are patriotic".

The new measures follow last year's sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing that has seen democratic politicians and activists sent to jail or pushed into self-exile.

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"Due to ongoing concerns from the USA government about direct communication links between the United States and Hong Kong, we have made a decision to withdraw our [Federal Communications Commission] application", a Facebook spokesperson said. Dozens of the city's most-prominent pro-democracy figures last month were charged with subversion under the security law and have since been detained.

The Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee and relevant agencies will study and absorb advice and suggestions from all parties for related legislation by the NPC Standing Committee to provide solid legal support for ensuring the steady practice of the "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong in the long run.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang congratulate the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) on March 11, 2021, at the People's Forum in Beijing, China.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the USA would continue to take action against "egregious violations of democracy and human rights in Hong Kong", according to the Financial Times.

"It's a pity that we today have probably gone back to where we were in the early days after the handover", Chan told public broadcaster RTHK. "But of course, Hong Kong still has a well-established civil society, even though they have to be extremely cautious because they may be detained or arrested for speaking out against the government".

China had committed to giving Hong Kong a degree of autonomy when it reverted from British colonial rule in 1997, a status that has unravelled in recent months -- drawing global criticism. In the last Legislative Council election in 2016, 40 of 70 seats were filled through a public vote.

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