Hong Kong’s legislative body has overwhelmingly backed the ‘patriots rule’ electoral reform system that restricts political positions in the autonomous region to people who support a united China.
The new electoral system was supported by an overwhelming majority of Hong Kong’s political body, with 40 votes in favor and only two dissenters, ensuring it passed into law and will be adopted by the city.
The electoral reforms will introduce a ‘patriots rule’ requirement, restricting political office to individuals who show allegiance to Hong Kong and China, uphold the region’s Basic Law and pass national security checks. It will also reduce the number of elected seats in the chamber from half to less than a quarter.
The Improving Electoral System Bill 2021 was first brought to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on April 14. With elections to the Legislative Council set for December 19 and the contest to replace the region’s chief executive on March 27, 2022, it will also be illegal for individuals to call on voters to leave ballots blank.
Beijing has defended the changes in Hong Kong, claiming that it is designed to address existing “loopholes and deficiencies” in the system that have threatened national security in the autonomous zone and mainland China.
The region’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has claimed that, as well as bolstering security, the changes will help to heal the “internal rift that has torn Hong Kong apart” and address “excessive politicization in society.”
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Opponents of the changes have argued that Beijing has forced through these changes to increase its control on Hong Kong after purging the region’s parliament of pro-democracy lawmakers last year. Individuals critical of the Chinese government believe that the new screening process will end democracy in Hong Kong by allowing Beijing to handpick candidates for office.
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