China approves plan to veto Hong Kong election candidates, aims for tighter control

Critics say this will be one of the final nails in the coffin of Hong Kong's democracy movement.
China's President Xi Jinping votes on changes to Hong Kong's election system during the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11, 2021.(NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)
China's President Xi Jinping votes on changes to Hong Kong's election system during the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11, 2021.(NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)
Updated on Mar 11, 2021 01:23 PM IST
Copy Link
AFP |

China's rubber-stamp parliament voted Thursday for changes to Hong Kong's electoral system including powers to veto candidates, as Beijing moves to establish a "patriotic" government after huge pro-democracy rallies in the city.

Beijing has acted decisively to dismantle Hong Kong's democratic pillars after massive and sometimes violent protests tremored through the financial hub in 2019.

At last year's meeting of the National People's Congress, the Communist Party leadership imposed a sweeping national security law on the finance hub.

That has since been used to jail dozens of democracy campaigners and has defanged the protest movement in a city which had enjoyed greater political freedoms than on the mainland under the "one country, two systems" rule.

On Thursday, only one member of the National People's Congress abstained in the vote, which critics say will be one of the final nails in the coffin of Hong Kong's democracy movement.

The decision aims to place the power of governing the city "firmly in the hands of forces that are patriotic and love Hong Kong", according to parliamentary spokesman Wang Chen.

Although the exact shape of the latest changes is unclear in China's opaque political system, the vote clears the path towards a "qualification vetting system" for the electoral process in Hong Kong.

A Beijing-controlled election committee in the city would also be tasked with "electing a large proportion of Legislative Council members," he added, referring to the city's LegCo assembly.

The move is a "setback" for Hong Kong's progress on democratic development since 1997, said Bernard Chan, a top advisor to city leader Carrie Lam, this week.

"Over the last 23 years, we clearly didn't do a good job to show to the central government that these so-called political reforms are actually helping 'One Country, Two Systems'," Chan told AFP.

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 international criticism.

Until recently Hong Kong has maintained a veneer of choice, allowing a small and vocal opposition to flourish at certain local elections.

Generally when Hong Kongers are allowed to vote, they vote in droves for pro-democracy candidates.

In recent years, however, authorities have ramped up the disqualification of politicians either sitting in the city's semi-elected legislature or standing as candidates, based on their political views.

Last month Hong Kong announced its own plans to pass a law vetting all public officials for their political loyalty to Beijing.

Wang had said the "chaos in Hong Kong society shows that there are obvious loopholes and defects in the current electoral system", giving an opportunity for "anti-China forces in Hong Kong" to seize power.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Russian service members work on demining the territory of Azovstal steel plant during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, on May 22, 2022. (REUTERS)

    Russian diplomat resigns over Ukraine war: ‘Enough is enough…’

    A Russian diplomat, serving at the country's permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva, said on Monday 'enough is enough,' adding that he is resigning from civil service to protest against Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24. Bondarev was particularly critical of President Vladimir Putin, Sergei Lavrov, who ordered the'special military operation'on Ukrainian soil foreign minister since 2004.

  • Barriers surround a closed shopping mall in Beijing China, on Monday, May 23, 2022. Beijing reported a record number of Covid cases during its current outbreak, reviving concern the capital may face a lockdown as authorities seek to stamp out community spread of the virus. (Bloomberg)

    Beijing extends work-from-home order as Covid-19 cases rise

    Beijing on Monday extended its work from home orders after the Chinese capital reported its biggest daily tally of Covid-19 cases , sparking fears of a full lockdown. Beijing reported 99 Covid-19 cases on Monday for Sunday, which was up from a previous daily average of around 50, pushing the total caseload over 1,400 in the ongoing month-long outbreak.

  • The IIA was signed in Tokyo by foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra and Scott Nathan, the chief executive officer of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). (HT FILE PHOTO.)

    India, US ink Investment Incentive Agreement for more fiscal support in various sectors

    New Delhi: India and the US on Monday signed the Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA) that is expected to lead to enhanced investment support from America's development finance institution in a wide range of sectors. The IIA was signed in Tokyo by foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra and Scott Nathan, the chief executive officer of the US International Development Finance Corporation.

  • Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, arrives for a court hearing in Kyiv.

    Who is Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin found guilty of Ukraine war crimes? 

    A 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison by a Ukrainian court on Monday for killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian, sealing the first guilty conviction for war crimes since Moscow's invasion three months ago. Who is Vadim Shishimarin? Shishimarin from Irkutsk in Siberia has confessed to gunning down the 62-year-old man near the central village of Chupakhivka to prevent him reporting a carjacking by fleeing Russian troops.

  • Soldiers of an artillery unit take part in the live fire Han Kuang military exercise, which simulates China’s People's Liberation Army (PLA) invading the island, in Pingtung, Taiwan. (REUTERS/FILE)

    China warns US after Joe Biden says ready to defend Taiwan militarily

    China on Monday warned the US should not underestimate its “strong ability” to safeguard the country's territory after President Joe Biden said in Tokyo that Washington could “militarily” defend Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, which Beijing says is a breakaway region and has not ruled out using force to reunify it. Biden was asked directly if the US would defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded at a press conference in Tokyo earlier in the day.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, May 23, 2022