US condemns Beijing's move to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system

ANI
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US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price
US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price

Washington [US], March 12 (ANI): The United States has condemned China's national legislature approving a resolution to drastically overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure only 'patriots' can rule the city, a move which is feared to further clamp down on opposition voices in the city.

"We condemn the People's Republic of China (PRC's) continuing assaults on democratic institutions in Hong Kong," US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing.

"The changes approved by the National People's Congress today, on March 11, are a direct attack on Hong Kong's autonomy, its freedom and democratic processes limiting political participation, reducing democratic representation, and stifling political debate in order to defy the clear will of people in Hong Kong and deny their voices in their own governance," he added.

The National People's Congress (NPC) on Thursday passed the resolution by a near-unanimous vote, paving the way for the biggest shake-up to the city's electoral system since its return to China in 1997, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).

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.

Under the new electoral system, NPC members and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, will be part of the Election Committee in the selection process of the city's leader next year, reported Xinhua news agency.

Less than a year after imposing the draconian National Security Law, China last week had launched a legislative process for drastic electoral system reform in Hong Kong, which could benefit the pro-establishment camp and further quash the political opposition in the city.

The Election Committee will be expanded to add these 300 Beijing loyalists and the Legislative Council will also be expanded to 90 seats from 70.

Although Chinese officials have insisted that the measures are necessary to establish a 'democratic electoral system with Hong Kong characteristics', critics have warned that it would limit the space for the opposition in the city and roll back years of effort to liberalise the system, reported SCMP.

Ahead of the NPC's vote on the electoral measures, Britain said the proposed changes to Hong Kong's electoral system would be another attack on the former British colony's rights and freedoms. (ANI)