The Chinese National Congress passed new law that will effectively obliterate Hong Kong’s general election process.
The Chinese National Congress passed new legislation on Thursday which would give the Chinese Electoral Committee the authority to veto any elected officials, including those in Hong Kong’s territory, based on how patriotic they were towards China. The motion passed unanimously, with 2,895 votes to zero.
Currently, Hong Kong’s parliament is composed of 70 seats, half of which are democratically chosen. In recent years, many of these seats were occupied by democratic advocates who stood up against China’s political encroachment, but these seats will be likely be reserved for pro-Beijing members only if the new law is implemented.
Tensions between Beijing and Hong Kong had risen significantly since President Xi imposed new security laws in Hong Kong in 2019, which sparked numerous protests as the measure was seen by many as a direct threat to freedom of speech and liberty from Mainland China.
The British Parliament is currently looking into whether or not China’s move breaches the joint declaration signed in 1984. As per the agreement, Hong Kong was a “handover” from the UK, back to China’s dominion. However, it granted Hong Kong a unique Special Administrative Region status, to be guided by a principle commonly known as One Country, Two Systems.
According to the joint declaration, Hong Kong should be able to maintain its own “social and economic systems and life-style … rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and religious believes.” The agreement is supposedly valid for 50 years, starting from 1997, effectively granting Hong Kong all of the above until at least 2047.
China for the most part has been respectful of the agreement. Back in the late 90s, Hong Kong was economically booming, accounting for 27 percent of China’s GDP total. With China’s exponential growth ever since, these days Hong Kong’s economy represents less than 3 percent of China’s GDP total, drastically reducing Hong Kong’s political capital in the region.
The chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, Lo Kin-hei, called Thursday’s actions “the biggest regression of the system since the handover.” Kin-hei is currently out on bail after he was arrested in 2019 for allegedly participating in an unauthorised assembly.
A spokesman for the National People’s Congress claimed that the law was necessary to provide stability for the country and improve Hong Kong’s current political system.