Beijing passes resolution to ensure only ‘patriots’ loyal to the Communist Party rule Hong Kong

Domestic News

As expected, the National People’s Congress in Beijing passed a resolution to change the electoral system in Hong Kong. The new rules will effectively ensure that pro-democracy politicians remain in a permanent minority in the territory.

Everyone votes to destroy democracy in Hong Kong — the National people’s Congress unanimously approves Hong Kong electoral reform with one abstention today in Beijing, China, March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Today in Beijing, on the last day of the Two Sessions political gathering, the National People’s Congress (NPC) approved a resolution that will effectively put pro-democracy politicians in a permanent minority in Hong Kong.

  • The resolution, which has been expected for weeks, was passed by the rubber-stamp NPC with a vote of 2,895 to zero, with one abstention.
  • The changes, which Chinese state media says are intended to create a “more suitable electoral system for Hong Kong,” are expected to be implemented “as soon as April,” per the Wall Street Journal.
  • When that happens, it will likely be through a similar process as the national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last summer, bypassing the local Legislative Council to adjust the annex of the city’s constitution, the Basic Law.

What will change in Hong Kong?

Mainly three things:

  • Election Committee membership and rules: The 1,200-person body that already selects the Chief Executive in Hong Kong will be expanded to 1,500 members, comprising five different sectors. The New York Times notes that a new rule “will now require at least some support from each of the five main groups on the committee” in order for a candidate to be nominated, meaning that Beijing “will now have the chance to form one group entirely from its loyalists, which would block pro-democracy nominees.”
  • Direct selection of some legislators: A practice that was abandoned after the 2000 legislative election will be resumed, per the Wall Street Journal. The Legislative Council, which will now have 90 seats instead of 70, will have a “relatively large share” of the seats directly selected by the Election Committee, rather than voted in by the public. The NPC resolution did not specify how many seats this would affect.
  • A new “candidate qualification review committee” (候选人资格审查委员会) will be established, to “ensure that the qualifications of candidates are in conformity” with a set of laws, including the national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong last year, Xinhua reports (English, Chinese).

The overarching aim of the resolution and upcoming official changes, Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 said, was to “uphold the principle of ‘patriots governing Hong Kong,’” per the WSJ.

Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. were among the first countries to react to the NPC resolution and condemn it.

  • “Japan’s Foreign Ministry expressed ‘grave concern’ over what it called a major setback for Hong Kong’s system of self-governance, and urged China to allow fair elections in the territory,” the WSJ reported.
  • British foreign minister Dominic Raab called it the “latest step by Beijing to hollow out the space for democratic debate in Hong Kong.”
  • The Biden administration in the U.S. said the move was a “direct attack” on Hong Kong’s autonomy, joining a chorus of condemnation from representatives of both American political parties, per the Financial Times.