Image source - bbc.com
The central government in Beijing maintains control over Hong Kong's foreign affairs as well as the legal interpretation of the Basic Law. China's government has passed a new law that will drastically restrict the right of Hong Kong's people to stand for election and reshape the city's parliament, further entrenching Beijing's power over the supposedly semi-autonomous territory.
The number of directly elected seats in parliament has been cut almost by half, and prospective MPs will first be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee to ensure their loyalty to the mainland. The aim is to ensure only "patriotic" figures can run for positions of power. Critics warn it will mean the end of democracy, fearing it will remove all opposition from the city parliament.
Hong Kong leader Carie Lam stated:
"For people who hold different political beliefs, who are more inclined towards more democracy, or who are more conservative, who belong to the left or belong to the right, as long as they meet this very fundamental and basic requirement, I don't see why they could not run for election"
Nearly all opposition lawmakers ousted from their seats or having resigned in protest, their pro-establishment counterparts ensured the bill sailed through the Legislative Council without a hitch. It was passed with 40 pro-establishment lawmakers voting “yes”, while two independent opposition members remained against it.
Lo Kin-hei, chairman of the city’s largest opposition group, the Democratic Party, said the legislative changes had reduced general voters’ say in elections.
“This, we believe, is a retrogression. It has been reflected in many surveys that people think we are taking steps backwards in terms of Hong Kong’s march to real democracy,”
Beijing laid out a blueprint for the city’s political overhaul at the nation’s annual parliamentary meetings in March, and Hong Kong followed with drafting the legislation, officially known as the Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021.