China adopts decision to improve Hong Kong electoral system

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 12, 2021
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The closing meeting of the fourth session of the 13th NPC is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 11, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's top legislature Thursday adopted a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), unveiling a series of measures that will reform how the region's chief executive and local lawmakers are elected to ensure the financial hub is run by patriots.

The decision was endorsed by an overwhelming majority vote at the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC). Lawmakers attending the session at the Great Hall of the People burst into thunderous applause after it was passed.

It came months after the NPC Standing Committee enacted the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR, which has helped Hong Kong make the transition from chaos to stability.

"The decision will help form a new democratic electoral system suited to Hong Kong's realities and with Hong Kong characteristics," said Qi Pengfei, a researcher on Hong Kong at the Renmin University of China.

According to the decision, the NPC Standing Committee will amend two annexes to the HKSAR Basic Law, which govern the selection method of the HKSAR chief executive and the formation method of the Legislative Council (LegCo), respectively.

To become more "broadly representative, suited to the HKSAR's realities, and representative of the overall interests of its society," the Election Committee of the HKSAR will be reformed in its size, composition and formation method, and will be given more power.

The Election Committee, expanded to 1,500 members from 1,200, shall be responsible for electing the Chief Executive designate and part of the members of the LegCo, as well as for nominating candidates for the Chief Executive and LegCo members, said the decision.

The LegCo shall be composed of 90 members in each term. Members of the LegCo shall include members returned by the Election Committee, those returned by functional constituencies, and those by geographical constituencies through direct elections, according to the decision.

A candidate qualification review committee of the HKSAR will be set up to vet and confirm the qualifications of candidates for the Election Committee members, the Chief Executive, and the LegCo members.

The HKSAR is required to improve the system and mechanisms related to qualification review, amend local laws in accordance with the decision and the amended Basic Law annexes, and organize and regulate election activities accordingly.

In a statement, HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would like to pledge "staunch support" for and "sincere gratitude" to the passage of the NPC decision.

"I, together with the HKSAR government, will render our full cooperation in facilitating the amendments, and press ahead with the necessary amendments to the relevant local electoral legislation thereafter," Lam said.

Explaining a draft of the decision to lawmakers at the start of the week-long session, senior legislator Wang Chen said the rioting and turbulence that occurred in the Hong Kong society in recent years reveals that the existing electoral system in the HKSAR has clear loopholes and deficiencies, which the anti-China, destabilizing elements jumped on to take into their hands the power to administer the HKSAR.

Necessary measures must be taken to improve the electoral system and remove existing institutional risks to ensure the administration of Hong Kong by Hong Kong people with patriots as the main body, said Wang, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said it firmly supports the decision and will resolutely implement it in the work, adding that implementing "patriots administering Hong Kong" is the key to improving the electoral system.

The decision fits the common expectations of Hong Kong residents and will help Hong Kong end chaos and usher in good governance, said Lo Sui-on, an NPC deputy from Hong Kong.

According to a survey by think-tank Bauhinia Institute, more than 70 percent of Hong Kong residents support the NPC decision and believe that the move will create better conditions for the HKSAR government to focus on developing the economy and improving people's livelihood.

"I strongly support the NPC decision," Jacky Ko, a young social network influencer of Hong Kong, said.

"We are really angry at troublemakers entering Hong Kong's executive, legislative and judiciary organs as they caused the legislative chaos and obstructed projects that concern people's livelihoods, which made ordinary people suffer," he said.

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