China’s parliament approves “patriot” electoral reforms

Chinese leaders approved a comprehensive overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system on Tuesday, reducing the number of directly elected seats and ensuring that a majority of the city’s legislators will be elected by a credible committee for Beijing.

The new measures, which bypassed Hong Kong’s legislators and were introduced directly by Beijing, are the latest step aimed at overthrowing the city’s democracy movement after major protests.

“President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order to publish the amended annexes,” China’s official Xinhua news agency said in a brief report.

Hong Kong’s 7.5 million inhabitants are still not sure what the new law contains, but some details have yet to be published.

But Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s only delegate to China’s rubber-stamped parliament, gave a summary of what the new measures included.

“The amendments were adopted unanimously by 167 members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,” he told AFP.

Under the new law, Hong Kong’s legislators will be expanded from 70 to 90 seats.

Only 20 of those seats will now be elected directly, down from 35, Tam said. The majority – 40 – will be elected by a trusted committee for Beijing.

The remaining 30 will be elected by “functional constituencies” – bodies representing certain industries and special interest groups that have also been historically loyal to Beijing.

The person facing the election must also be checked for his political views.

Tam revealed that the control committee would be set up by Hong Kong authorities and that the city’s new national security apparatus would be able to find out who was approved.

“The National Security Committee and the National Security Police will provide reports on each individual candidate to assist the investigation by the Qualifications Review Committee,” he told AFP.