China amends Hong Kong’s Basic Law to improve electoral system

Amendments will revise, improve methods for selection of Hong Kong's chief executive, says foreign ministry


News Desk March 31, 2021
PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING:

China’s Standing Committee of the National People's Congress deliberated on and adopted amendments to Annexes I and II to the Basic Law (electoral reforms) of the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region of the Peoples' Republic of China) on Wednesday.

China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's said that this was a move to systemically revise and improve the methods for the selection of the chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR and for the formation of the country's legislative council.

He added that it would provide strong institutional safeguards for the full and faithful implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems and the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", and ensure the stability of Hong Kong in the long run.

It embodies the common aspiration of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong compatriots, Lijian observed.

The move to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR aims to develop, in a gradual and orderly manner, a democratic system that is in line with the constitutional order of Hong Kong and suited to its actual situation, the spokesperson added.

He stated that the amedments “will better ensure extensive and balanced political participation of Hong Kong residents and serve the interests of all social strata, all sectors and all parties of Hong Kong society.”

It will help improve the governance efficacy of the Hong Kong SAR, safeguard the fundamental interests of Hong Kong and promote its long-term development, the spokesperson added.

“We are convinced that the new electoral system will help foster a better political, social, legal and business environment and usher in brighter development prospects for Hong Kong,” he said.

The spokesperson further maintained that Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and its affairs are China's internal affairs.

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“The Chinese government has the resolve and confidence to safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” he said.

“It has the resolve and confidence to ensure the continued success of the policy of One Country, Two Systems, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. Any attempt to meddle in Hong Kong affairs and impose pressure on China is doomed to fail,” Lijian said.

According to Xinhua, President Xi Jinping signed the presidential orders to promulgate the amended annexes, which went into effect today.

"A democratic electoral system suiting Hong Kong's legal status and reality has taken shape as a result of the amendments," said Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee when presiding over the session's closing meeting.

Li said the two amended annexes fully demonstrate the resolution and common will of the Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots, in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests as well as the constitutional order of the HKSAR.

HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday in a statement 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.

"I and the HKSAR Government will spare no effort in taking forward the necessary amendments to the local electoral legislation in accordance with the amended Annex I and Annex II," said Lam.

The overall design of the system was centered around the reformation and greater empowerment of the Election Committee of the HKSAR.

Apart from its original function of nominating and electing the chief executive, the committee will have two more key functions: electing a relatively large proportion of LegCo members and participating in the nominations of all LegCo candidates.

"With the enlargement, increased number of sectors, adjusted subsectors and renewed functions, the Election Committee will have a broader base and be more representative of society, leading to more balanced participation from people from all walks of life," said Zhang Yong, deputy head of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.

The amendments also expand LegCo membership from 70 to 90. Among the members, 40 shall be returned by the Election Committee, 30 by functional constituencies and 20 by geographical constituencies through direct elections.

According to the new annexes, a candidate eligibility review mechanism shall be established to review and confirm the eligibility of candidates for the Election Committee, the office of chief executive, and the LegCo.

 

 

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