China sharply reduces elected seats in Hong Kong legislature to 20 from 35 

WION Web Team
Beijing  Published: Mar 30, 2021, 07:45 PM(IST)

Chinese and Hong Kong flags are seen outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China Photograph:( AFP )

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The new body will have 20 elected members, 30 chosen by the constituencies and 40 by an Election Committee, which also has and will continue to choose the city's leader. The committee, which will be expanded from 1,200 to 1,500 members, is dominated by supporters of the central government in Beijing

China has sharply reduced the number of directly elected seats in Hong Kong's legislature in a setback for the territory's already beleaguered democracy movement. 

The changes were announced on Tuesday after a two-day meeting of China's top legislature. 

In the new make-up, the legislature will be expanded to 90 seats, and only 20 will be elected by the public. Currently, half of the 70-seat legislature, 35 seats, are directly elected. 

The move is part of a two-phase effort to reign in political protest and opposition in Hong Kong, which is part of China but has had a more liberal political system as a former British colony. China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong last year and is following up this year with a revamp of the electoral process. 

The crackdown comes in the wake of months of pro-democracy protests in 2019 that brought hundreds of thousands to the streets and turned violent as the government resisted protester demands. 

China's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, amended Hong Kong's constitution to pave the way for the changes. The Hong Kong government is now tasked with revising its electoral laws and holding an election. 

In the current 70-member legislature, voters elect half the members and the other half are chosen by constituencies representing various professions and interest groups. Many of the constituencies lean pro-Beijing, ensuring that wing a majority in the legislature. 

The new body will have 20 elected members, 30 chosen by the constituencies and 40 by an Election Committee, which also has and will continue to choose the city's leader. The committee, which will be expanded from 1,200 to 1,500 members, is dominated by supporters of the central government in Beijing. 

A separate committee will also be established to review the qualifications of candidates for office in Hong Kong to ensure the city is governed by 'patriots', in the language of the central government. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

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