World news – China severely reduces the number of elected seats in the Hong Kong legislature: The Asahi Shimbun

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Carrie Lam, Hong Kong General Manager, attends a press conference on March 30 in Hong Kong on electoral reform in Hong Kong. (AP Photo)

HONG KONG – China has greatly reduced the number of directly elected seats in Hong Kong’s legislature, a setback for the already-beleaguered democracy movement in the territory.

The legislature will be expanded to 90 seats and only 20 will be publicly available elected. Currently, half of the 70-seat legislature – 35 seats – is directly elected.

The move is part of a two-phase effort to contain political protest and opposition in Hong Kong, which is part of China but a more liberal one as a former British colony political system. China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong last year and will revise the electoral process this year.

The move came after months of protests against democracy in 2019, which brought hundreds of thousands to the streets and became violent when the government split opposed the movement’s demands.

« It’s a very sad day for Hong Kong. The electoral system is completely dismantled, » said former Democratic Party legislator Emily Lau.

« You will be the opposition’s vote because under this new system that is so oppressive and restrictive, I don’t think a self-respecting person would want to participate, « Lau said.

China’s highest legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, has the Constitution of Hong Kong changed to pave the way for the changes. The Hong Kong government is now tasked with revising its electoral laws and holding elections.

In the current 70-member legislature, voters elect half of the members and the other half are elected by constituencies representing different professions and interest groups . Many of the constituencies lean towards Beijing and ensure that the wing has a majority in the legislature.

The new body will have 20 elected members, 30 from the constituencies and 40 from an electoral committee that will also be the city’s leader elected.

The committee, which will expand from 1,200 to 1,500 members, is dominated by supporters of the central government in Beijing.

Election workers are made up of the national security police and a committee that oversees national security in the city, A new separate body will also be set up to review the qualifications of candidates for office in Hong Kong to ensure that the city is ruled by « patriots » in the language of the central government.

The full National People’s Congress canceled a proposal in mid-March authorizing the Standing Committee to amend the Basic Law, the constitution that has governed Hong Kong since the surrender of the former British colony ruled to China in 1997 under a « one country country ». Two-systems framework that promised him semi-autonomy for 50 years.

Hong Kong chairwoman Carrie Lam said at a press conference Tuesday that the new committee for examining candidates will consist of some government officials, including them trusts the central government.

Lam denied concern that the changes would affect the city’s plans to achieve universal suffrage and allow residents to vote for their leader.

 » I can also say very categorically that the central government is very sincere to give the people of Hong Kong so-called more democracy, ie universal suffrage, « said Lam.

She accused the pro-democracy legislators, protested a proposal in 2014 who would have allowed residents to vote for the general manager on the condition that Beijing would review the candidates press for improvement, then in accordance with the actual situation in Hong Kong and in an orderly and gradual manner … I am fairly certain that we will continue to have universal suffrage in the selection of the Chairman of the Board. « She said.

 » We just have to act together and make sure we don’t move away from this fundamental concept of ‘one country, two systems’, « she said.

The political opposition in Hong Kong, who Seeking more democracy sees the changes as part of a broader effort to keep them out of office.

Democratic Party leader Lo Kin-hei said there were questions as to whether the new system « can actually reflect that what Hong Kong people think and what Hong Kong people believe « .

Lo said Democratic Party members are still debating whether to stand for election.

 » All of these changes will affect how we discuss and how our party members think about the electoral system and whether or not we will enjoy elections in the future, « he said.

Partly, it depends on the definition of patriots. The opposition tried to block the legislation by filibustering an important legislative committee for months and disrupting the legislative process.

Beijing, which gives priority to political stability, sees these measures as interfering with the Hong Kong government and wants to keep these actors away from the government.

A statement from the Beijing Hong Kong and Macao Office said that Hong Kong’s national security law provides a solid legal basis for safeguarding national security and that electoral reforms provide a “solid institutional guarantee” for the city’s framework Country, two systems « ensure that only » patriots « rule Hong Kong.

The statement also states that with the election changes, the relationship between the city’s leader and the legislature will become smoother and the » different deep ones.  » entrenched contradictions and problems that have plagued Hong Kong for a long time « will be more effectively resolved.

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