China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) is considering a proposal to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure “patriots” are in charge, at its week-long annual meeting that began on Friday.
Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the NPC, stressed that the rubber-stamp body had the constitutional power to “improve” Hong Kong’s system and that the electoral structure needed to fully implement the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong”.
Hong Kong’s Cable TV and Now TV, citing unnamed sources, said the changes would include increasing the size of the election committee that selects Hong Kong’s leader from 1,200 to 1,500 people, and the city’s legislature from 70 to 90 seats.
District councillors would also be removed from the committee that chooses the chief executive, while a new body would be set up under the chief executive to vet all candidates for elected offices.
Currently 50 percent of the seats in the Legislative Council are chosen by direct election and pro-democracy candidates have traditionally done better than the establishment and pro-Beijing candidates.
Local media reported the already-delayed legislative council elections would be deferred for another year until September 2022.
The reforms are likely to deal a serious blow to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy politicians and activists who have been under pressure since China imposed a broadly-worded national security law on the territory that had been swiftly approved at last year’s NPC.
Some have gone into exile while others are facing trial under the legislation.