Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is supporting a call made by a key Chinese official for electoral reforms that would ensure the city’s legislature is filled with pro-Beijing loyalists.
Xia Baolong, the director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said Monday that the city could only be ruled by “patriots” which he said excludes people he described as “troublemakers.”
Lam told reporters Tuesday that she understands why officials in the central government are concerned, as “they do not want the situation to deteriorate further in such a way that ‘one country, two systems’ cannot be implemented.”
China’s national legislature is expected to issue a number of changes to Hong Kong’s electoral process during its annual session next month. Among the expected changes are granting more voting power to pro-Beijing members of Hong Kong’s 1,200-member electoral commission that selects Hong Kong’s chief executive. The changes would strip the voting rights of several lower level district councilors, many of whom are pro-democracy supporters.
Under the “one country, two systems” concept, Hong Kong was promised a greater number of civil liberties than the mainland when it was transferred from British to Chinese control in 1997.
The Asian financial hub was rocked by massive and often violent anti-government protests in the last half of 2019, initially triggered by a controversial extradition bill that evolved into a greater demand for greater freedoms for the semi-autonomous city.
The demonstrations spurred Beijing to impose a new national security law last year under which anyone in Hong Kong believed to be carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces could be tried and face life in prison if convicted.