China plans to rip up Hong Kong’s electoral system and finally end the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.
The controversial reforms will be rolled out at the National People’s Congress, which starts later this week. They will be seen as a move to finally crush the pro-democracy movement that sprang up during the summer of discontent in 2019.
Since then, Beijing has imposed a wide-ranging national security law on Hong Kong, eroding the city’s autonomy. The Joint Declaration agreement signed by the United Kingdom and China before the handover in 1997 has been effectively ripped up.
“It totally destroys any hope for democracy in the future. The whole concept is that the Communist Party rules Hong Kong and only those that support the Party can have any role,” Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy former member of Hong Kong’s legislature, said as reported by the Reuters news agency.
The plan was hatched months ago after President Xi Jinping called in January for “patriots” to run the city. Last month, Xia Baolong, the head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, confirmed that Hong Kong’s electoral system had to be “designed” for “patriots.”
- Pro-democracy activists in the city have been branded “anti-China agitators.”
- They will be banned from taking part in elections next year.
- Democratic district councilors will also be weeded out under the reforms.
- Only pro-Beijing loyalists will be allowed to govern Hong Kong.
- The city’s government issued a statement, saying the implementation of “patriots ruling Hong Kong” was a priority.
- Improving the electoral system will continue, it added.
What was said: “Don’t go too far and kill the patient,” Shiu Sin-por, a pro-Beijing politician and former head of Hong Kong’s Central Policy Unit, told the media after a briefing session with Xia on the matter, according to Reuters.
Reaction to the news: “It’s no longer for people to decide. It’s one Party rule, completely,” Lee, the former Hong Kong legislator, said.
Delve deeper: In the past two years, Beijing has squeezed the political life out of the city. Mass street protests in 2019 saw up to a million people march for greater democracy. In response, China has arrested and imprisoned activists in a bid to stifle dissent. Last week, Hong Kong police charged 47 pro-democracy campaigners with “conspiracy to commit subversion,” which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Broken promises: The [charges are] deeply disturbing. The national security law violates the Joint Declaration, and its use in this way contradicts the promises made by the Chinese government,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said earlier this week.
China Factor comment: Beijing has proved it can no longer be trusted to abide by international agreements. It has already consigned the Joint Declaration to the trash bin of history. Now, it wants to destroy all traces of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy. Xi’s propaganda puppets will spin an alternative narrative but the Party’s real fear is that democrats could sweep the board at elections scheduled for later this year. Welcome, to the “One Country, One System” model.