Monday, January 24, 2022

Hong Kong electoral ‘reforms’ an attack on its freedoms, says London

Beijing intends to reduce democratic representation in Hong Kong and ensure that only 'patriots' will govern the island.

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Britain said on Wednesday that proposed changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system would be another attack on the freedoms of its former colony, and that the UK government has raised its concerns directly with Beijing.

“Such measures, if introduced, would be a further attack on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms,” foreign office minister Nigel Adams told lawmakers. “The Chinese and Hong Kong authorities can be in no doubt about the seriousness of our concerns.”

China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, is expected on Thursday to approve a resolution that will reduce democratic representation in Hong Kong institutions and ensure that only “patriots” will govern the island.

Adams said Britain would wait to see what the actual changes were before making its final assessment as Beijing has as yet made no other details of the plans public.

Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi last week said the move is “necessary for a brighter future” in the city, while Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the city’s postponed legislative elections could be delayed even further due to the electoral changes.

The proposed changes are expected to grant more voting power to pro-Beijing members of the 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.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule with the promise of wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms that pro-democracy activists, who brought parts of the city to frequent halts in sometimes violent protests in 2019, say are being whittled away by Communist Party rulers in Beijing. China denies the accusation.

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