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China Approves Major Overhaul of Hong Kong Electoral System

A TV screen broadcasts Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference in Hong Kong, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. China's top legislature approved amendments to Hong Kong's constitution on Tuesday that will give Beijing more control over…

China’s national legislature has approved several new changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system that further shuts out the city’s pro-democracy forces from the legislature.

The changes passed Tuesday by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and signed into law by President Xi Jinping include the creation of a special committee that will review the qualifications of potential candidates to ensure Hong Kong is governed by so-called “patriots.”

The new rules would also reduce the number of directly elected lawmakers to the city’s Legislative Council, while expanding the total number of seats from 70 to 90, as well expanding the number of members on Hong Kong’s electoral commission that selects the city’s chief executive from 1,200 to 1,500.

The electoral changes were praised by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who said bringing in more “patriots” into the legislature means that the “excessive politicization in society and the internal rift that has torn Hong Kong apart can be effectively mitigated.”

Lam said the next legislative elections under the new system will be held in December. The city was scheduled to hold Legislative Council elections last September, but they were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.