'Totally constitutional', says China on altering Hong Kong's electoral reforms amid criticism
Despite worldwide condemnation of China for altering Hong Kong's electoral reforms, Beijing has justified its moves as "totally constitutional, lawful and justified".
Addressing a press conference on Sunday on the sidelines of the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the move to "improve" Hong Kong's electoral system and ensuring "patriots administering Hong Kong" is justified.
"The reform is needed to implement 'patriots governing Hong Kong', and for advancing 'one country, two systems'...it is entirely constitutional, lawful and justified for the National People's Congress (NPC) to improve Hong Kong's electoral system and ensure "patriots administering Hong Kong," he said.
He further said, "If a person does not love the country, how can he or she love Hong Kong? Loving Hong Kong and loving the country are entirely consistent...Hong Kong's transformation from chaos to peace is in the interest of all sides, and will offer stronger safeguards to protect Hong Kong residents' various rights and foreign investor's legal interests."
On March 4, the National People's Congress in China announced that it would deliberate on amending the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, according to a statement from the bloc dated Friday. A decision can be expected by March 11.
Less than a year after imposing the draconian National Security Law, China has launched a legislative process for drastic electoral system reform in Hong Kong, which could benefit the pro-establishment camp and further smother the political opposition in the city.
China has planned a fundamental overhaul of the city's normally contentious politics, the New York Times reported.
Zhang Yesui, a senior Communist Party official, announced on Thursday that China's national legislature planned to rewrite election rules in Hong Kong to ensure that the territory was run by patriots, which Beijing defines as people loyal to the national government and the Communist Party.
Zhang did not release the details of the proposal. But Lau Siu-kai, a senior adviser to the Chinese leadership on Hong Kong policy, has said the new approach is likely to call for the creation of a government agency to vet every candidate running not only for chief executive but for the legislature and other levels of office, including neighbourhood representatives.
NYT also reported that the strategy will further concentrate power in the hands of the Communist Party in Hong Kong and decimate the political hopes of the territory's already beleaguered opposition for years to come.
The new reforms come months after China passed the national security law to quash the resistance to its rule in Hong Kong.
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