Statements at a press conference ahead of today’s March 5 meeting of China’s National People’s Congress suggest that changes will be made to Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure that only Chinese patriots will be eligible for election in the “Special Administrative Region.”
The changes will help align the former British colony with Xi Jinping Thought.
On the agenda will be “improvements” to help Hong Kong’s election system “keep up with the times,” and provide a guarantee for the comprehensive and accurate implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle, and the full implementation of the “patriots ruling Hong Kong” principle” NPC spokesperson Zhang Yesui, said, according to Taiwan media outlet United Daily News.
“The NPC’s advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, opened its annual session on Thursday, with chairman Wang Yang pledging support for calls that only ‘patriots’ who show undivided loyalty to the ruling Communist Party should be allowed to hold elected office in Hong Kong,” according to The Globe and Mail.
Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece China Global Television Network (CGTN) provided historical context for today’s expected reforms of Hong Kong’s (formerly) democratic system.
The principle of “the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong” was put forward by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s, as part of the “one country, two systems” policy formulated for Hong Kong’s 1997 return to the motherland, CGTN reported.
“Decades later, the principle remains intact,” CGTN stated.
“Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for ‘patriots governing Hong Kong,’ saying this is the only way to maintain the stability of the region,” according to CGTN.
There is no actual historical difference, according to Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University’s School of Law.
“‘Patriots governing Hong Kong’ is actually not new, because Deng had made it clear that it has to be patriots who govern Hong Kong. However, this has not been well-implemented in the past decades,” Tian told CGTN.
Recent protest movements such as the Occupy Movement, and the anti-extradition protests shows that “there are people who use social movements, foreign interference and loopholes in the electoral system to pursue independence from China,” Tian said.
After his previous statement that the term “patriots governing Hong Kong” is not new, and was made clear by Deng in the early 1980s, Tian then said “The phrase ‘patriots governing Hong Kong’ is a response to the chaos and instability that’s been wrought on the city by these movements.”
“These standards for patriots are set to select political leaders. It will filter out the bad apples in the electoral system,” Tian said. “But for ordinary residents, even if they don’t meet the standards, as long as they do not commit crimes, they can still carry on with their lives as usual. And, their democratic rights and freedom will be protected.”
Cover picture: appropriated from SCMP without permission.
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