China blames ‘hostile external forces’ for Hong Kong electoral reform plans

Hong Kong, Mar 9 (efe-epa).- The electoral reform of Hong Kong being studied during Beijing’s annual congress was prompted by interference of “hostile external forces,” an official from China’s foreign affairs ministry said on Tuesday.

“Some external forces have openly meddled with Hong Kong’s elections,” Song Ru’an, China’s deputy foreign ministry commissioner based in Hong Kong, told international reporters at a press conference.

“That does not only affect Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability but also the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he said. “So the central government is obliged to improve the electoral system and thoroughly prevent foreign forces from taking advantage of the electoral system to seize power.”

He claimed that “anti-China troublemakers” in the city “have colluded with hostile external forces to flagrantly advocate Hong Kong independence” by exploiting local elections.

According to Song, the Chinese government has the power to reform the city’s electoral system, which “will in no way affect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”

Reform measures under the shake-up include scrapping the power of all 117 district councilors in choosing the chief executive, as well as entrusting the city’s Election Committee, which elects the top Hong Kong leader, with the new power to choose a large number of members of the Legislative Council, the city’s mini-parliament, and also nominate all council members.

Beijing’s plans were unveiled on the eve of China’s annual National People’s Congress, which opened last week and is set to conclude Thursday, at which time it is expected to be accepted for processing.

Days before the congress opened, 47 pro-democracy politicians and activists were charged with conspiring to commit subversion by organizing an unofficial primary last July.

All but three of the defendants have been released on bail. If convicted, the 47 face three years to life imprisonment under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Beijing began the process of adopting the contentious national security law at last year’s congress. The law was imposed on June 30, 2020, and has meant a reduction in the freedoms previously enjoyed by the ex-British colony. EFE-EPA


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