China’s top legislature on Tuesday [30 Mar] adopted a package of legislative changes to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system.
The amended Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) were passed at a session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee with a unanimous vote from all 167 committee members in attendance.
The two annexes respectively concern the method for the selection of the HKSAR chief executive and the method for the formation of the HKSAR Legislative Council (LegCo) and its voting procedures.
“The consideration behind this institutional design is that LegCo members returned by the Election Committee would represent the overall interests of Hong Kong society, those returned by functional constituencies would represent the interests of various sectors, and those returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections would represent the interests of their constituencies,” said Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.
In recent years, District Councils have seriously deviated from their functions and nature prescribed by the Basic Law, which stipulates that District Councils are “district organizations which are not organs of political power” and may “be consulted by the government of the Region on district administration and other affairs,” explained Deng.
Funded by the government, District Councils should concentrate on promoting the well-being of grassroots communities, provide valuable and constructive suggestions to the HKSAR government, and work as a bridge connecting the government with ordinary people, Deng added.
This is to ensure candidates meet not only the general eligibility requirements, but also the legal requirements and conditions of upholding the Basic Law and swearing allegiance to the HKSAR, so as to fully implement the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong,” said Deng.
Improvement of the HKSAR electoral system has important political, constitutional and legal significance
Chinese lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously passed amendments to Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
Zhang Yong, deputy head of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said the adoption marks the successful completion of the legislative work of the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee, using the constitutional rights, from the national level, to improve the HKSAR electoral system by means of “decision and amendment.”
Speaking during an interview, he added that the decision has important political, constitutional and legal significance.
“We must adhere to the fundamental consensus of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, consolidate the foundation of the constitutional system of the HKSAR, offset the loopholes in the electoral system to ensure that patriots govern the region, improve the management efficiency of the HKSAR and develop democracy in a gradual and orderly manner in the region,” Zhang said.
He also introduced five main aspects of the amendments in the interview.
First, reconstruct the Election Committee, specify issues such as its size, composition, term of office and qualifications of its members, and further expand the representation of the Election Committee.
Second, specify sub-sectors, the allocation of Election Committee members in various sub-sectors within each of the five sectors, as well as the method for returning Election Committee members. The amendment aims to make the Election Committee more representative, so as to further enhance the balanced participation of all walks of life of the Hong Kong society.
Third, improve and expand the roles of the Election Committee to improve the executive-legislature relationship and better facilitate the executive-led system.
Fourth, stipulate the electoral systems of the chief executive and the Legislative Council (LegCo). The electoral system of chief executive is basically preserved. Adjustments are made to the nomination mechanisms to ensure the post of the chief executive is taken only by staunch patriots. Improve the electoral system of the LegCo to better balance the overall interests of the Hong Kong society, the interests of different sectors and districts.
Fifth, establish a Candidate Eligibility Review Committee to ensure “patriots administering Hong Kong,” and prevent anti-China, destabilizing elements from entering the body of power of the HKSAR. /// nCa, 5 April 2021 (in cooperation with Embassy of China in Ashgabat – material produced by Xinhua)