A resolution on reforming Hong Kong’s electoral system has been placed on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC) – confirming widespread reports of imminent changes to guarantee that only patriots be allowed in positions of power.
State media reported that an item titled “improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR” is seventh out of ten items on the agenda of the annual parliamentary meeting, which opens on Friday.
NPC spokesman Zhang Yesui did not give further details of what the changes would entail, only saying at a press conference laying out the meeting’s agenda that the changes are necessary, and fully within the power of the top legislative body.
“The developments in recent years show that the electoral system [in Hong Kong] needs to be improved to keep abreast with the times and to provide sound institutional guarantee for the full and accurate implementation of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’, and the principle of ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’,” Zhang said.
“This is the power of the NPC as well as its responsibility,” he added.
Speculation has been rife that the mostly pro-democracy sub-sector of district councillors will be removed from the election committee that chooses the territory’s chief executive, and be replaced with members of the NPC, or Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Other suggestions floated include getting rid of the district council ‘superseats’ in Legco; setting up an ‘eligibility vetting committee’ to screen candidates for future Legco polls; and choosing the chief executive through consultation rather than elections.
Pro-Beijing figures said they believe the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will devise detailed electoral arrangements after the resolution is passed.
Lau Siu-kai, from the country’s top think tank on Hong Kong – the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies – said the move demonstrates Beijing's determination to rectify Hong Kong's political chaos.
He added that the move is largely to protect national security.
On Thursday, the annual session of the CPPCC opened with chairman Wang Yang saying the advisory body will “unswervingly support the principle of having patriots rule Hong Kong.”
In his work report, Wang also said the body would support patriotic education for young people in Hong Kong and Macau.
In response to the announcement, an HKSAR government spokesman said: "To ensure the steadfast and successful implementation of "one country, two systems", we must always adhere to the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong". This principle is fundamental to national sovereignty, security, development interests, as well as the long-term prosperity of Hong Kong."
"Only through "patriots governing Hong Kong" can the Central Government's overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR be effectively implemented, the constitutional order as set out by the Constitution and the Basic Law be effectively safeguarded and the long-term stability and safety of Hong Kong be achieved."
"Matters concerning the political system of HKSAR are the prerogative of the Central Government. The Central Government has the authority and responsibility to improve the electoral system in Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government respects that the Central Government is taking the lead and will render its full co-operation."
HK electoral reform placed on NPC agenda
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