Hong Kong: ‘patriots’ in, democrats out

Hong Kong

The first “patriots only” vote under Hong Kong’s new political system was held Sept. 19, to choose members for a 1,500-member Election Committee—although only some 360 of the seats were actually contested. Voting was restricted to some 5,000 individuals representing different professions and industries, chosen under a principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong.” Members were vetted by the newly formed Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, appointed from Beijing. The Election Committee is tasked with electing 40 members of the enlarged 90-seat Legislative Council in December as well as choosing the city’s new chief executive next March. The new and more controlled electoral system was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote at the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress in Beijing this March. (HKFP, China Daily, China.org.cn, Xinhua, Kyodo, RFA)

The Election Committee vote was held on the same day the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), the city’s largest independent labor grouping, announced plans to disband. Founded in 1990 by a group of veteran independent labor unionists, the HKCTU is the latest pro-democracy body to fall as Beijing intensifies its campaign to silence organized voices of dissent in the Special Administrative Region. Several smaller groups have moved to disband since a sweeping National Security Law came into force on June 30. (HKFP)

Photo: HKFP

  1. Amnesty International to close its Hong Kong offices

    Amnesty International will close its two offices in Hong Kong by the end of the year, the organization announced Oct. 25. The local “section” office will cease operations on Oct. 31 while the regional office—part of Amnesty’s International Secretariat—is due to close by the end of 2021. Regional operations will be moved to the organization’s other offices in the Asia-Pacific.

    “This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong’s national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government,” said Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty’s International Board. “Hong Kong has long been an ideal regional base for international civil society organizations, but the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signals an intensification of the authorities’ campaign to rid the city of all dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment.” (AI)

  2. HK: pro-Beijing candidates sweep controversial LegCo election

    Pro-Beijing candidates have claimed an overwhelming victory in Hong Kong’s controversial Legislative Council (LegCo) election, as the city saw its lowest ever voter turnout. It was the first LegCo election since China made sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system, passing a “patriots” resolution that allowed Beijing to vet every candidate. Only 30.2% of voters took part in the poll, according to officials. (BBC News)