Conflicts & War

Hong Kong passes controversial Beijing-designed electoral reform

Beijing, May 27 (EFE).- Hong Kong approved Thursday an electoral reform designed by Beijing that will drastically reduce the options of the pro-democratic opposition to seize power in the semi-autonomous city.

Hong Kong’s parliament, which since November has no opposition due to the expulsion of four lawmakers and subsequent resignation of another 15, approved the motion by 40 votes in favor to two against and no abstentions, Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK reported.

These modifications mean the number of parliamentary seats will increase from 70 to 90, but only 20 of them can be elected by direct suffrage (compared to the 40 stipulated by the previous regulations.)

The electoral committee — the body in charge of appointing the Hong Kong chief executive by restricted suffrage — will increase its number of seats by 300, to 1,500 members, and will be in charge of selecting 40 of the Legislative Council deputies.

Among the legal modifications there is also one that would penalize public calls for an electoral boycott or blank or null vote with up to three years in prison.

“The modification of the electoral legislation will provide us with a solid base on which to carry out the next elections” scheduled for December, the head of the Hong Kong Executive Carrie Lam said Thursday.

Thursday’s is one more step in the reinforcement of Beijing’s control over Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 by virtue of the Sino-British Declaration of 1984. The document includes Beijing’s commitment to guarantee the then existing freedoms in the territory until at least 2047.

The obligation to take an oath of allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region came into force Friday both for elected positions and candidates who want to participate in elections as a way to guarantee their “patriotism.”

These changes come after the National Security Law for Hong Kong that Beijing drafted and imposed last year, as a result of the anti-government mobilizations that took to the streets of the former British colony during the second half of 2019.

This law stipulates penalties of up to life imprisonment for cases of secession, terrorism or conspiracy with foreign forces. EFE


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