China's parliament to delay Hong Kong legislative vote, overhaul electoral system


Since it was passed on June 30 by China's top legislature, the 13th National People's Congress, the law has fixed the loophole in Hong Kong's legal system and halted violent activities in Hong Kong, Lam said.

"The EU calls on the authorities in Beijing to carefully consider the political and economic implications of any decision to reform the electoral system of Hong Kong that would undermine fundamental freedoms, political pluralism and democratic principles", an EU spokesperson said.

The city's leader - the chief executive - is chosen by a 1,200-member committee that is deliberately stacked with Beijing loyalists.

During last year's NPC meeting, Beijing introduced a sweeping national security law that has resulted in waves of detentions and dramatically chilled political speech.

The introduction of the vetting legislation - expected to be approved next week - was quickly interpreted as one of the final nails in the coffin of Hong Kong's democracy movement.

Hong Kong's Basic Law provides that foreigners can serve as judges and up to 20 per cent of legislators can be foreign nationals; an emphasis on patriotism would put such people in an awkward position, to put it mildly.

The Biden administration has strongly criticized China's human rights abuses, including in the western region of Xinjiang, where around 1 million Uighurs have been detained, and in Hong Kong, where Beijing has crushed a pro-democracy movement. All but fifteen were denied bail before their trial in May.

So perhaps the degree of political dissent in Hong Kong will reflect the situation in the mainland, where several "minority parties" that support the Communist Party are allowed to exist.

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"As agreed by European Union foreign ministers, the European Union stands ready to take additional steps in response to any further serious deterioration of political freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong, which would be against China's domestic and global obligations", the spokesperson said.

But opposition candidates scored a landslide win in district council elections in late 2019, in a clear popular rebuke to Beijing.

Now half of the 70 seats in the Legislative Council are directly elected, a proportion which is likely to shrink once the new changes are implemented.

Most high-profile pro-democracy politicians and activists are either in jail or in exile after authorities cracked down on mass anti-government protests in 2019, culminating with the imposition of a national security law previous year.

Ahead of the bail decisions, over a hundred supporters gathered outside the West Kowloon Court, chanting slogans such as "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", which the government has made illegal due to secessionist connotations.

Others sang the protest anthem "Glory to Hong Kong".

Over the past 26 years, Hong Kong topped the table for all but one year - a source of pride to the territory's government, which often used the accolade in its official news releases and investment brochures.

The 47 are part of a broader group of 55 activists who were arrested in January for their role in the primary elections.