03/18/2021, 14.02
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Beijing to choose most Hong Kong lawmakers

This is the main aspect of the election reform imposed by the mainland on Hong Kong. The Committee appointing the head of the local executive gets more powers. Beijing wants to eliminate so-called anti-Chinese elements. For Taiwan’s former pro-China president, the law means the death of the “one country, two systems” principle.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The pro-Beijing Electoral Committee that appoints Hong Kong’s chief executive will pick most of the members of its Legislative Council (LegCo), this according to Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, speaking on the final day of a forum on electoral reform in the former British colony.

On 11 March, the final day of its annual session, the National People's Assembly (NPC) gave the green light to a draft proposal that grants new powers to the Electoral Committee (already controlled by Beijing).

With the addition of 300 delegates from the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the body will go from 1,200 to 1,500 members. The LegCo will also be expanded from 70 to 90 members.

According to Zhang, the Committee will elect the largest share; the rest will be chosen by direct suffrage in five geographical constituencies and indirectly by representatives of functional constituencies (industry, trade unions, professions).

The authorities will also set up a committee to screen the nominations to the Electoral Committee and LegCo in order to block candidates who are not considered 'patriotic', a euphemism for people in favour of democracy.

Zhang pointed out that forum participants have called for district councillors, most of them pro-democracy, to be removed from the enlarged Electoral Committee, or at least drastically reduce their numbers (there are currently 117).

He pointed out that the matter would be referred to the NPC Standing Committee, which is responsible for drawing up amendments.

In line with what Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, has already said, Zhang noted that reform is necessary to prevent Hong Kong’s affairs from being endangered and manipulated by a very small number of so-called anti-Chinese elements.

He also warned that the local economy and residents’ lives cannot be “kidnapped” by political interests.

After a national security law was adopted in June 2020, critics say electoral reform is actually a new trick to wipe out the pro-democracy opposition in the former British colony.

The toughest attack came from Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan’s former (pro-Beijing) president. Last Friday, during a ceremony in memory of the founder of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen, Ma said that the electoral change will decree the death of the “one country, two systems” principle, which is basis of Hong Kong's autonomy.

The issue is particularly sensitive for Taiwan, seen by Communist China as a “rebel province”. In addition to threatening to take the island by force, Beijing proposes peaceful reunification precisely on the basis of the principle of “one country, two systems”.

Johnny Chiang, current leader of the Kuomintang (the nationalist party once led by Ma), expressed regret at the latest developments in Hong Kong.

He noted that Beijing will not regain the trust of Hong Kong people unless it guarantees them a high degree of autonomy and democracy.

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