Beijing says that anyone “opposing China and blocking Hong Kong” should not be allowed to hold office in the semi-autonomous city.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam endorsed Beijing’s plans to ensure “patriots” rule the city, saying it is necessary to stem the hatred of China and maintain the “one country, two systems” model of governance in the semi-autonomous region.
Her comments, made at a regular weekly press conference on Tuesday, came a day after a key Chinese cabinet member referred to changes in Hong Kong’s electoral system aimed at further marginalizing the pro-democracy opposition in the city’s institutions.
Chia Baulong, director of the Office of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs under the State Council, said Hong Kong can only be governed by “patriots”, a term he said includes people who love China, its constitution and the Communist Party and excludes anti-China “rioters.”
“It is not permissible for anyone to hold key positions under all circumstances” against China and block Hong Kong, said Xia.
“Those who oppose the patriots are destructive of the principle of“ one country, two systems ”and they should not be allowed to have a share of the political power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Not now, never.
These measures will reinforce the authoritarian transformation that Hong Kong has undertaken since Beijing imposed the Comprehensive National Security Act in June 2020 and arrested most prominent democratic politicians and activists. The law was introduced in response to massive pro-democracy protests that sometimes slipped into violence in 2019.
Lam cited Xia’s remarks on Tuesday, saying that protests calling for democracy or blocking legislation proposed by various pro-Beijing governments had ignited “hatred” against Beijing and the Hong Kong government.
“This series of incidents has made the central government anxious and of course for me as the chief executive, it is also worrying,” Lam told reporters.
“To prevent the situation from deteriorating to the point that” one country, two systems “is difficult to implement, problems must be addressed at the central government level.
The changes, which will likely be announced in March, are expected to impose restrictions on who are allowed to run in legislative elections and result in the disqualification of most lower-level county councilors – most of them pro-democracy politicians who won a landslide election victory in November 2019. .
The South China Morning Post said the reforms would represent “the most significant restructuring of the city’s political and administrative systems” since the UK returned the territory to China in 1997.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of the US-based Human Rights Watch, said these moves mean that China only wants “princes of the Chinese Communist Party” to be able to run for office in Hong Kong.
“Another nail in the coffin of any semblance of democracy in Hong Kong,” he said in a tweet.
The new rules may skew the formation of a 1,200-member committee that elects the city leader in favor of the pro-Beijing camp.
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