Hong Kong to elect new lawmakers under Chinese election law

Hong Kong, Dec 18 (EFE).- Hong Kong will elect new legislators on Sunday in polls under a controversial political system imposed by Beijing to tighten the Chinese grip on the semi-autonomous city.

Hong Kong elections were restricted already in favor of Chinese government favorites, but now the number of representatives elected by direct suffrage has also fallen from 35 seats to 20.

The number of lawmakers appointed by a powerful pro-Beijing electoral committee will be 40 for the revamped council.

The parliament will have 90 seats from the current 70. But only those who Beijing considers “patriots” are eligible to contest.

Low turnout is expected at the polls on Sunday.

According to a survey, only 48 percent of eligible voters will vote, the lowest since 1991.

Some 86 percent of voters used their rights in 2016, prompting the local government to send text messages to residents urging them to vote.

Deputy chief executive John Lee has asked Hong Kongers to vote to help “create a better Hong Kong” and prevent “rioters, foreign and destructive forces from prevailing.”

The authorities have mobilized 10,000 police officers to prevent disturbances.

China imposed electoral reforms after massive anti-government protests in 2019 that led to arrests and sentences of many activists. Many have opted for exile.

Among those convicted are businessman Jimmy Lai, founder of the now-defunct opposition newspaper Apple Daily, and dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists imprisoned for organizing and participating in demonstrations.

The movement, which demanded an improvement in the Hong Kong democratic system two years ago, has its top leaders in prison now.

China has claimed that the political reform would help in “improving the electoral system in Hong Kong.”

It was the big-ticket reform of the electoral system of Hong Kong since the Britishers handed over their colony into Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

Beijing had pledged to maintain the prevailing freedoms in the territory for 50 years until 2047 under the 1984 Sino-British Declaration.

However, the west and many other countries have questioned the liberties in Hong Kong in the wake of months-long and often violent anti-government protests in 2019.

China last year also approved a wide-reaching national security law that stipulates severe punishments for secession, subversion, and any collusion with foreign forces. EFE


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