Carrie Lam defends Beijing's plan to reform HK's electoral system

James Marshall
Февраля 26, 2021

"I can understand that the central authorities are very concerned".

He also said the territory's electoral system should be quickly improved.

Governance by patriots is expected and necessary, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Monday, adding that potential electoral reforms are not meant to pressure any specific political groups.

The SCMP quoted a "government insider involved in the city's electoral matters" who said September's legislative elections could be delayed while Beijing rewrites Hong Kong's electoral laws and implements its "patriot" policies.

Lam said Tuesday she understands why officials in Beijing "do not want the situation to deteriorate further in such a way that "one country, two systems" can not be implemented".

Reforms could also further skew a committee electing the city's leader in favour of the pro-Beijing camp.

China will reshuffle a body tasked with selecting the city's chief executive in a bid to block pro-secessionist lawmakers and replace them with people backing Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

It could also go after district council elections - the only time Hong Kongers get to vote for every seat. But his remarks are seen as laying out a plan to exclude people critical of the mainland government from running in elections for the chief executive and the Legislative Council. Their sway was further diminished when opposition lawmakers were disqualified and then resigned en masse late previous year.

China has taken various steps to stamp out dissent in the former British colony since the sometimes-violent protests, most notably by imposing a sweeping national security law previous year.

The "patriotism" requirement for the city's fiercely independent judiciary would be of particular concern for many in Hong Kong, as its common law-based system has been key to establish the city as a global financial hub.

Xia said steps had to be taken to effectively prevent those who "oppose China and undermine the stability of Hong Kong", as well as "agents of anti-China forces" in overseas countries, from taking up positions in the city's organs of political power, describing it as a "major issue of principle related to the success or failure of the cause of one country, two systems". "Many public officers on the front lines in recent years have been intimidated, threatened and insulted in carrying out their duties", she said.

Local media has reported that the city's government was considering such a law, which would mark the biggest move to limit freedom of speech in Hong Kong after China imposed a broad national security law previous year in the wake of mass demonstrations in 2019.

Mr Henry Wong, a pro-democracy councillor from suburban Yuen Long, said he was still deciding whether to take the oath under the new law.

"This need to change the electoral system and arrangements in Hong Kong is for one single objective, that is to make sure that whoever is governing Hong Kong is patriotic", she said.

EU governments have been widely criticized by human rights activists for doing less than their USA and United Kingdom counterparts while cozying up to China for an investment pact that could see European companies gain deeper access to the Chinese market.

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