China wants to make sure that only “patriots” can stand for election in Hong Kong (south), a central government official said on Monday, amid Beijing’s growing influence in local politics in the semi-autonomous territory.
The remarks by Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, came less than two weeks before the annual session of the National People’s Congress (PNA), the Chinese parliament.
This will begin on March 5 in Beijing and could lead to new measures to strengthen control of the semi-autonomous territory, after having imposed, last year, a law on national security.
“The application of the principle that the patriots should rule Hong Kong requires several simultaneous measures. The main and most urgent is to perfect the system and, in particular, to perfect the electoral system without delay,” said Xia Baolong.
“Being a patriot means loving the People’s Republic of China,” he said in a written version of his speech, published by the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
Hong Kong (7 million inhabitants) has never enjoyed a full democracy, neither under British rule nor since it was pushed back to China in 1997.
Following the large, often violent pro-democracy demonstrations of 2019 and the landslide victory of the opposition candidates in the district elections, Beijing responded strongly.
In May 2020, the ANP, in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), imposed a law on national security that helped muzzle numerous Hong Kong opposition figures.
On Monday, Xia Baolong called for “filling in the loopholes” in the electoral system to avoid the presence of “anti-China” candidates, suggesting possible electoral reform.
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