Beijing set to overhaul Hong Kong electoral system
International desk || shiningbd
China announced at its biggest political meeting that it will overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure "patriots" are in charge, a sign that the government will no longer tolerate dissent in the city.
The reform comes after a crackdown and tightened control of Hong Kong.
A draft decision will be discussed during the National People's Congress (NPC), which will run for a week. Thousands of lawmakers have gathered for the meeting in Beijing.
Besides the Hong Kong decision. the rubber-stamp parliament is expected to also discuss and approve economic growth targets and environmental policies from the central government.
NPC vice-chairman Wang Chen announced on Friday that several annexes in Hong Kong's Basic Law - the city's mini-constitution - would need to be revised. These would mean revising the rules governing the election of the chief executive and the Legislative Council elections.
Wang added that "loopholes" in Hong Kong's electoral system had allowed opposition activists to advocate for the city's independence. He added that these "risks" needed to be removed, adding that a "democratic electoral system with Hong Kong characteristics need to be established".
The move comes after the implementation of a national security law that critics say is being used by Beijing to crush dissent in the city, and a crackdown on activists and opposition figures. A number of arrests have been made, and last week saw 47 pro-democracy activists charged with "subversion" under the new law.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, is a part of China, but has been governed under the principle of "one country, two systems", meaning it has its own legal system and rights including free speech and freedom of press.
But many in Hong Kong and rights groups have accused China of eroding those freedoms and autonomy in recent years. There were months of violent protests in 2019.