County councilors – Hong Kong’s only full-fledged democratic body – will be excluded from the committee that selects Hong Kong’s chief executive.
“This is terrible and difficult to understand for Hong Kong people,” said Lu Qin Hee, head of the city’s Democratic Party.
It is the latest move by the central government in China to tighten its grip on Hong Kong after a series of massive pro-democracy protests. Dozens of Hong Kong activists They were arrested earlier this year Under the National Security Act, it essentially neutralizes the democratic movement that the city has long cherished.
Reforming Hong Kong’s legislature would mean easier control of the central government in China, with only a minority of seats elected directly by residents.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that Hong Kong firmly supports the amendment.
Referring to the pro-democracy movements since 2014, Lam said the government needs to deal with the “chaos” of the past few years that “loopholes in legislation” have enabled and restore order in the legislature.
The move drew sharp criticism from Western officials on Tuesday. In a post on TwitterBritish Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the electoral changes as a “clear breach” of China’s obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984 before the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
Laila Moran is a member of the British Parliament. call For the British government to work. “Words of condemnation did nothing to protect Hong Kong’s democracy,” she said.
The new screening procedure for public office candidates includes a preliminary examination and background check by the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police. Lu, from the Democracy Party, said that police intervention basically means they can choose who can run for public office.
Lam said the vetting committee is not aimed at preventing pro-democracy candidates from running for these public offices.
“As long as they can prove it [patriots]And not to betray or collude with foreign forces … As long as they want to serve the citizens of Hong Kong, they still can [run]She said.
Andrew Leung Kwan Yoon, speaker of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, announced on Tuesday that the elections will be postponed until December.
Chinese state media welcomed the move. The state broadcaster CGTN said on Tuesday that the legislative changes will provide “much needed stability” in Hong Kong and prevent violent protests in the future.
Hong Kong was a former British colony, and it was returned to China in July 1997 after Beijing pledged that the city’s lifestyle would remain unchanged for 50 years. This means that Hong Kong enjoys a much greater degree of autonomy, democratic government and freedom of expression than mainland China.
But under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese central government has greatly increased its control over Hong Kong affairs, especially after a series of massive pro-democracy protests in the city. passage Hong Kong National Security Law In the past year, the city has been placed under similar oppressive rhetoric restrictions as on the mainland.
Dozens of activists In January Under the National Security Act, he was charged with “conspiracy to commit sabotage.” Many of them were either candidates or helped facilitate the July primaries designed to select pro-democracy candidates running in the upcoming legislative elections.
An overhaul of Hong Kong’s legislature was expected on Tuesday, with the approval of China’s national parliament Vote in mid-March To make these amendments to the Hong Kong Basic Law.
Yu report from Hong Kong. Bi Lin Woo in Taipei, Taiwan, and Yerik Lee in Seoul contributed to this report.