Beijing says anyone who “goes against China and disrupts Hong Kong” should not be allowed to take office in the semi-autonomous city.
Hong Kong Managing Director Carrie Lam endorsed Beijing’s plans to ensure that “patriots” rule the city, saying they were necessary to stop the hatred of China and support the “one country,” model of governance. two systems ”for the semi-autonomous territory.
His comments, held at a regular weekly press conference on Tuesday, come a day after a key Chinese cabinet member signaled changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system aimed at further marginalizing the pro-democracy opposition in institutions. from the city.
Xia Baolong, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs office, said Hong Kong can only be ruled by “patriots,” a term he says includes people who love China , its constitution and the Communist Party and excludes China “troublemakers”.
“Key positions under all circumstances should not be taken over by anyone who ‘goes against China and disrupts Hong Kong,’” Xia said.
“Those who oppose the patriots are destroyers of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and they should not be allowed to take any part of the political power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Not now, not ever, ”he added.
The measures would further consolidate the authoritarian turn taken by Hong Kong since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in June 2020 and the arrest of most of its prominent Democratic politicians and activists. The law was introduced in response to huge pro-democracy protests which at times resulted in violence in 2019.
Lam leaned on Xia’s comments on Tuesday, saying that protests calling for democracy or the blocking legislation proposed by various pro-Beijing governments had fueled “hatred” against Beijing and the Hong Kong government.
“These series of incidents have worried the central government and of course, for me, as managing director, it is also worrying,” Lam told reporters.
“To prevent the situation from escalating to the point where ‘one country, two systems’ could hardly be implemented, the issues need to be addressed at the central government level.”
The changes, likely to be announced in March, are expected to impose restrictions on who can run for parliamentary elections and lead to the disqualification of most lower-level district councilors – the majority of them pro-politicians. democracy who won a resounding election victory in November 2019.
The South China Morning Post newspaper said the reforms would mark “the most significant restructuring of the city’s political and administrative systems” since the UK returned the territory to China in 1997.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, based in the United States, said the measures mean that China only wants “the Chinese Communist Party toads” in order to run for office in Hong Kong.
“Another nail in the coffin of any semblance of democracy in Hong Kong,” he said in a tweet.
The new rules could further distort the composition of a 1,200-member committee, which elects the city’s leader in favor of the pro-Beijing camp.