Hong Kong leader ‘welcomes’ proposed electoral changes

Carrie Lam

Hong Kong: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Monday the city’s government “fully welcomes” changes to the city’s electoral system that will substantially increase central government control over Hong Kong politics and exclude Beijing’s critics.

Chinese authorities have said the draft decision before China’s National People’s Congress would mean the largely pro-Beijing committee that elects Hong Kong”s leader would also choose a large part of the legislature to ensure that the city is run by “patriots.”

The Election Committee would also have the right to vet candidates for the Legislative Council, weeding out any suspected of being insufficiently loyal to China and the ruling Communist Party.

Currently, half of Hong Kong’s legislature is directly elected by voters, although the mass resignation of opposition legislators to protest the expulsion of four of their colleagues for being unpatriotic means the the body is now entirely controlled by Beijing loyalists.

There are loopholes in the electoral systems, there are also flaws in the systems in Hong Kong, Lam said at a news conference after she returned from the meeting in Beijing. ‘I fully understand that this is not a matter that can be addressed entirely by the government.”“I”m glad that the central authorities have, again, exercised its constitutional powers to help address this problem for Hong Kong, she said.

She declined to elaborate on the views she had shared to the central authorities regarding the electoral reforms, and said many pieces of legislation in Hong Kong would have to be amended. The NPC, China’s ceremonial legislature, will all but certainly endorse the draft decision, though it may not take immediate legal effect.

Unconfirmed reports say the legislation will also expand the size of the Legislative Council from 70 to 90 and the Election Committee from 1,200 to 1,500. Seats on the Election Committee now reserved for directly elected district counselors will also be eliminated, further cementing Beijing’s control over the body.