China proposes overhaul of Hong Kong electoral system News
MarciMarc105 / Pixabay
China proposes overhaul of Hong Kong electoral system

Chinese parliamentarians in Beijing proposed an overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system on Friday. The proposed structural changes would involve re-drafting Hong-Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, consolidating China’s “overall jurisdiction” over Hong Kong.

China’s legislature is debating draft guidelines, and it is expected that it will pass the guidelines by March 11. Once the guidelines are passed, the legislature will produce detailed implementation rules.

Under the new proposal, Hong Kong will have 90 legislative seats instead of 70. The additional 20 seats would be decided by a committee with many Beijing loyalists. It is likely that seats held by democrats will be reduced or eliminated. The proposed electoral reform also seeks to expand the 1,200-person committee that chooses the leader of Hong Kong to 1,500 people. This expansion would improve a system controlled by Chinese patriots.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng explained that the proposed overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system aims to ensure patriots will hold power in Hong Kong, allowing them to address “deep-seated social problems.” Han asserted that “the electoral reform was also aimed at safeguarding the authority, and constitutional order, established under the Chinese constitution, and the Basic Law.”

One criticism of the reform is that it may threaten to remove the “one country, two systems” agreement established when Hong Kong returned to China in 1997. Under the Basic Law, Beijing promised to introduce universal suffrage. Opposition activists have strived to bring full democracy to Hong Kong. The reform is also being criticized for reasons including the possible elimination of opposition voices and the pledge of one-person, one-vote not being fulfilled.