Hong Kong holds first ‘patriotic’ vote under electoral system overhaul

Hong Kong politics updates

A tiny group of largely pro-Beijing Hong Kong elites has held town’s first vote since China overhauled Hong Kong’s electoral system final yr to root out “anti-China” components.

The ballot for the election committee, a handpicked physique that may choose Hong Kong’s subsequent chief govt and a lot of its lawmakers, eradicated most pro-democracy candidates and lowered the affect of the territory’s conventional enterprise teams.

The electoral adjustments elevated the dimensions of the election committee by 1 / 4 to 1,500 folks however radically lowered the variety of voters, from 246,440 in 2016 to simply 4,380 on Sunday.

“[The] profitable . . . election committee ballot . . . laid down the political guidelines that Hong Kong have to be run by patriots, whereas anti-China saboteurs have to be shut out,” China’s consultant workplace in Hong Kong stated.

Beijing has launched into a sweeping reorganisation of Hong Kong’s electoral course of in response to pro-democracy protests in 2019. The marketing campaign, which was aimed toward bringing Hong Kong extra into line with the mainland, has resulted in most distinguished opposition politicians both fleeing town or ending up in jail.

The reforms additionally reduced the number of directly elected seats within the Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s de facto parliament, and subjected all candidates to a “patriotic” vetting course of that largely eradicated these sympathetic to the favored pro-democratic camp.

Professional-Beijing politicians stated the central authorities was additionally eager to temper the influence of town’s property tycoons — who’ve lengthy held sway over native politics — to assist push by means of extra aggressive inexpensive housing insurance policies. China partly blames housing points in one of many world’s most costly property markets for the 2019 unrest.

The election committee is split into “subsectors” for various professions, group teams and associations representing folks whose ancestors come from varied components of China.

This yr, for instance, the Chiu Chow federation, which counts Hong Kong property billionaire Li Ka-shing as chief honorary president, was not allotted any seats on the committee.

Many highly effective Hong Kong businessmen have roots within the Chaozhou area, which the federation represents, positioned in north-east Guangdong province.

“Beijing is aware of you might want to make adjustments by undermining the affect of the massive households,” one politician with data of Beijing’s official pondering stated. “Then there will probably be much less obstacles to formulate insurance policies.”

When outcomes have been introduced on Monday, only one opposition candidate, Tik Chi-yuen, received a place on the committee. Greater than 600 candidates have been already chosen earlier than ballots have been distributed.

One candidate who spoke to the Monetary Occasions was unable to call the subsector they have been vying to signify. With so few voters, these handing out how one can vote playing cards didn’t have many takers exterior the polling station in Wan Chai on Hong Kong island when the FT visited.

“They [the voters] have nice affect on the coverage and the allocation of assets, so the election committee is extraordinarily necessary,” stated Lee Kin Man, a voter within the weekend’s choice course of and ex-official member of the election committee.

Carrie Lam, the chief govt, has but to point whether or not she’s going to stand when the brand new chief is chosen in March. Beijing usually makes clear its most popular candidate forward of the ballot.

The election committee was beforehand composed of three camps; pro-Beijing loyalists, tycoon households and the democrats, stated Ivan Choy, a lecturer on the Chinese language College of Hong Kong. “Up to now Beijing wanted to compromise with the tycoons with a purpose to get greater than half of the seats within the election committee,” he stated.

“Now Beijing has a robust will to train change to the land and the housing provide in Hong Kong.”

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