China's Hong Kong Election Reform Aims to Curb Party Opposition

The political situation in Hong Kong has been delicate since the Sino-British deal that aimed to preserve Hong Kong's freedoms as the territory was slowly absorbed back into Chinese rule by 2047. There have been many incidents in recent years as China strengthens its grip on Hong Kong, defying the so-called “One Country, Two Systems'' formula that has kept Hong Kong relatively free. The latest such incident was the Chinese National People’s Congress announcing changes to the Hong Kong political system that aims to change how elections work in Hong Kong. 

China and Hong Kong: Authoritarianism vs Democracy

China claims it has done everything it can to uphold The Basic Law – the sort-of constitution put in place to cover the protections of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. China also argues it has worked in good faith to enact Article 45 which allows for the introduction of universal suffrage for electing the chief executive of Hong Kong.

However, China has continued to push the boundaries in Hong Kong. Things only get worse when pro-Democracy groups fight back, as seen with the 2019 protests over the extradition bill that would allow Hong Kongers to be deported to mainland China for trials.

These incidents gave China the fuel for the National Security Law, which outlines vague, sweeping offenses of “collusion” and “subversion” with foreign forces. One central feature of the law is that those who break it can be extradited to the mainland. Their trials there would have far less oversight than even the original extradition bill.

The bill has already helped silence some party opposition. 55 politicians and activists were arrested in January, with 47 of those people charged. Even wearing a t-shirt or holding a protest banner is enough of a crime for someone to be detained.

The law also stipulates that political candidates must be verified by a committee to be “Patriotic.” This committee is, of course, packed full of Beijing loyalists, meaning that the chances of pro-democracy parties making headway in Hong Kong are lower than ever. 

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