Beijing looks to bolster grip over Hong Kong with election law reform

Hong Kong/Beijing, Mar 4 (efe-epa).- China is studying a new law that would overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system and boost the influence of pro-Beijing politicians in the special status territory.

Authorities are expected to unveil the proposal during the National People’s Congress, which begins in Beijing on Friday.

Earlier this week, a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC said Beijing would likely remove local district councilors’ power to elect the city’s top leader in order to reduce the political leverage of the opposition.

Xia Baolong, who was appointed to head Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office last year, said at a Beijing conference Monday that there was “an urgent need” to “optimize” Hong Kong’s electoral system and that people holding important official positions must be “staunch patriots.”

The yardstick of patriotism, in this case, is set by the Chinese government.

In an interview with the Chinese government-controlled Global Times, Lau Siu-kai, the vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said: “‘firm patriots’ not only have to strictly implement the national security law for Hong Kong, but actively promote the establishment of systems and regulations related to safeguarding national security.

“And the reform is not only on administration but involves various fields, including education, media and judicial system,” Lau added.

However, many Hongkongers, including some pro-Beijing loyalists, have deemed the expected proposals as regressive.

A prominent legal source who preferred not to be identified told Efe that Beijing’s move to impose changes related to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections was in violation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

“The biggest problem is that Hong Kong is supposed to enjoy a high degree of autonomy. According to the Basic Law, legislative matters are Hong Kong’s internal affairs over which it has autonomy, whereas chief executive elections are matters related to the state.

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