China Quiet on Details of Changes for Hong Kong’s Electoral System

China’s top legislative body has formally announced plans to change Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure that only “patriots” will govern the island. No other details of the plans have been made 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 Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a news conference over planned changes to the electoral system, in Hong Kong, China, March 8, 2021.The changes would ensure the Hong Kong legislature is filled strictly with “patriots,” FILE – Protesters against the new national security law gesture with five fingers, signifying the “Five demands – not one less” on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, July 1, 2020.Article 31 sets up Hong Kong as a special administrative region and makes it clear that the Basic Law holds sway in the territory. “This is tyranny of the majority. Dissidents will have no avenues to voice their opinions,” he continued, “I believe this will only provoke a backlash, letting anyone with a different opinion with Beijing to gather together and form a political power, which might impact the island’s long-term stability.”   Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai, told VOA that since the passing of the National Security Law, Hong Kong has been under “One Country, One System.” “The current Chinese authorities believe that no matter (if) it’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ or ‘One Country, One System,’ the essence is CCP (Chinese Communist Party) leadership,” he said. “Only by following the CCP can one be called a patriot. So, love your country equals to love the party equals to obey the orders by the party.”   Thousands of Hong Kongers have left the island since Beijing imposed the National Security Law last July.Thousands Flee Hong Kong for UK, Fearing China Crackdown The moves are expected to accelerate now that 5 million Hong Kongers are eligible to apply for visas to Britain, allowing them to live, work and study there and eventually apply to become British citizensNewly released figures from Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency show that 10,813 Hong Kongers were granted residency permits in 2020, almost double the previous year’s total.Australia, Canada and the United States have opened new immigration routes for Hong Kong residents. Britain, the island’s former colonial overlord, has invited holders of British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passports to apply for a new type of visa that establishes a path to citizenship.  Official estimates say that within five years, as many as 1 million Hong Kongers will leave, according to The Guardian newspaper. “Hong Kong is now the same as China,” Shen said. “But I hope once day, people at both places can enjoy freedom.”  VOA’s Lin Yang contributed to this report.

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