Hong Kong: China will impose stricter controls on election candidates

Candidates will have to obtain the approval of an electoral committee under the communist system in order to run.

source: ft

Beijing will impose tighter controls on candidates in the parliamentary elections in Hong Kong, a Chinese deputy announced on Friday, March 5.

The Chinese Parliament, meeting from Friday for its annual plenary session, is seized with a reform of the electoral system in the former British colony, which should result in the marginalization of the candidates of the pro-democracy opposition.

The National People's Congress (NPC) last year already imposed a national security law in its autonomous territory that radically curtailed political freedoms there, in reaction to the 2019 protests against the pro-Peking local executive.

Beijing wants "patriots" to rule Hong Kong

This time, according to the law presented to the ANP, an electoral committee under the communist regime will be responsible for examining candidates for the Legislative Council (LegCo), the Hong Kong Parliament. No candidate will be allowed to run without the approval of this body.

The electoral committee will have the task of "electing a large part of the members of the Legislative Council and participate directly in the nomination of all candidates," Wang Chen, deputy chairman of the ANP Standing Committee, told the press.

 "For the party-state, the issue of national security is above all a matter of sovereignty".

The Legislative Council is currently composed of 70 deputies, half of whom are democratically elected and half of whom are elected by the pro-Peking electoral committee. This arrangement has enabled the Chinese government to secure favourable majorities for Hong Kong since the handover of the British territory to China in 1997.

In the run-up to Hong Kong's parliamentary elections, scheduled in principle for September, Beijing has already made it known that it intends to ensure that only "patriots" will be able to lead the autonomous region.

EU warning in Beijing

The (EU) immediately denounced the project: "The EU is ready to take additional measures in response to any further serious deterioration of political freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong, which would be contrary to China's national and international obligations," announced the spokesman for the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell.

EU foreign ministers discussed on February 22 the adoption of additional measures against the repression in Hong Kong. The EU restricted exports of equipment used for surveillance and repression in Hong Kong and adopted a series of measures to help civil society.