China Approves Sweeping Changes to Hong Kong Election Laws

The top legislature of China decided to approve a new law that would overhaul the current political system in Hong Kong, aiming to cut the number of directly elected seats in the city and reshape its parliament to give Beijing more control over the supposedly semi-autonomous territory’s legislature.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has moved to pass the amendments to Hong Kong’s constitution on Tuesday.

The move of the top decision-making body of Beijing’s rubber-stamp parliament is part of the Chinese government’s efforts to revamp its increasingly authoritarian grip over Hong Kong as authorities in Beijing seek to ensure that “patriots” would rule the global financial hub.

Under the approved new system, the 70-seat Legislative Council of Hong Kong would be expanded to 90 seats, with 40 of those to be chosen by a mostly government-appointed Election Committee. 

Thirty of the seats would be controlled by the functional constituencies, while the remaining 20 would be directly elected by the public.

The Election Committee in Hong Kong would also increase the number of its members from 1,200 to 1,500.

“I firmly believe that by improving the electoral system and implementing “patriots administering Hong Kong”, the excessive politicization in society and the internal rift that has torn Hong Kong apart can be effectively mitigated, thereby enhancing the governance capability of the HKSAR,” Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement, referring to the city by its official name.

“The HKSAR will then be able to leverage our unique advantages and the staunch support of the Central Authorities to develop the economy and improve the livelihood of our citizens,” she added.

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