A prime Chinese official on Monday outlined plans to ensure solely “patriots” run Hong Kong as Beijing seeks to neuter any remaining democratic opposition and take a extra direct function in how the enterprise hub is run.
The landmark speech by Xia Baolong, head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, got here simply two weeks forward of the annual assembly of China’s rubber-stamp legislature as hypothesis grows that additional measures are being deliberate to sew up management of town.
“The most significant and urgent activity to implement rule by patriots is to enhance the related programs, notably the related electoral system,” Xia mentioned, in accordance to a speech printed by his workplace.
“Being patriotic means loving the People’s Republic of China.”
Hong Kong has by no means been a democracy — one thing that has fuelled years of protests and resentment in direction of Beijing.
But till lately, town had a veneer of alternative that allowed a small and vibrant opposition to flourish at sure native elections.
After enormous and sometimes violent democracy protests swept town in 2019 — and opposition politicians received a landslide in district council elections — Beijing responded with a significant crackdown.
At its final annual assembly, China’s National People’s Congress imposed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation that outlawed a lot dissent in Hong Kong and radically reworked its relationship with the authoritarian mainland.
Hong Kongers are subsequently trying intently at what the following assembly may convey.
Xia’s feedback recommend Beijing is looking for to ensure no opposition candidates are ready to stand within the metropolis’s restricted elections and are available after weeks of calls in China’s state media for such a purge.
Authorities, he mentioned, should “shut loopholes” that enable “anti-China troublemakers” into politics.
“Improving the related electoral system should be led by the central authorities,” he added.
– ‘Red strains’ –
Xia additionally laid out the standards for what makes a “actual patriot”, which included love for the People’s Republic of China, its structure and the Communist Party of China.
He added that members of the judiciary should even be patriots — a doubtlessly ominous warning for individuals who worry Beijing is planning to overhaul Hong Kong’s impartial courts, one of many pillars of its success as a enterprise hub.
Ahead of its 1997 handover by Britain, China agreed to let Hong Kong hold sure liberties and autonomy for 50 years in a model dubbed “One Country, Two Systems”.
Western governments and critics accuse Beijing of prematurely shredding that dedication lately.
Beijing counters that it’s restoring stability.
What kind electoral reform may take stays to be seen.
Beijing may additional ramp up management of town’s half-elected legislature to preserve an much more stable majority for its supporters.
It may additionally go after district council elections — the one time Hong Kongers get to vote for each seat.
Andrew Leung, the pro-Beijing president of Hong Kong’s legislature, advised reporters on Monday that Xia was “outlining the pink strains for folks holding excessive places of work in Hong Kong”.
The publish Top Chinese official outlines plan to ensure ‘patriots’ run Hong Kong appeared first on France 24.