Foreign Secretary statement on radical changes to Hong Kong's electoral system


The erosion of public trust in Hong Kong's institutions could undermine its major advantage as a center of finance and business hub that is relatively free of corruption, with a legal system known for its professionalism and impartiality.

Chinese state media on Thursday sketched out some of the key provisions of the law, which will still need to be written and then promulgated under the country's opaque political system.

The U.K. will "continue to stand up for the people of Hong Kong", Raab pledged.

Beijing is facing a chorus of condemnation after approving changes Thursday to how Hong Kong's legislature is chosen.

In a separate statement, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam pledged her "staunch support" and expressed "sincere gratitude".

The NPC amendment essentially gives Beijing-appointed politicians greater power in running the HKSAR's politics. The 300 new members will include Hong Kong's representatives to the NPC (the legislature) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (the upper house), who are chosen by Beijing.

A total of 2,895 delegates voted in favour of the proposal, which will authorise its standing committee to finalise the details of the electoral reform process and applauded for the longest period after the Hong Kong electoral proposal was passed.

A new mechanism will be set up to vet candidates and screen election winners' behaviour to make sure only those seen as patriots rule Hong Kong. We urge the stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, to stop interfering in China's internal affairs, and not to go down the wrong path even further.

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China had promised universal suffrage as an ultimate goal for Hong Kong in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

"This is a significant step which will further undermine Hong Kong's autonomy".

This comes after the introduction past year of a national security law, which criminalized pro-democratic activities as "secession".

The plan was swiftly pilloried by the US, EU and Britain, the city's former colonial ruler which handed control of the territory to Beijing in 1997 under a special "one country, two systems" arrangement. "Chaotic situations triggered by the 2019 anti-extradition bill protest can't be staged again", Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of the State Council's Office on Hong Kong and Macao Affairs said. "Discussion of differing views, not silencing of them, is the way to secure the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong", it added.

Repressive measures have already hamstrung the Hong Kong opposition, with nearly all of its major figures either in custody or self-exile.

The blanket requirement for "patriotism" raises the risk that politicians will start competing over who is more loyal to China, rather than who has the better ideas for how the city should be governed, analysts say. If the direction of its politics seems clear, its economic future appears less so.

Beijing's bet is that China's market may remain a big enough draw to allay broader concerns about the changes sweeping through the SAR.