The fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) opened in Beijing on March 5. Wang Chen, vice chairman of the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC), made a statement on the “Draft Decision on Improving the Electoral System of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”, proposing to improve the electoral system of Hong Kong, mainly the method of selecting the Chief Executive and the method of forming the Legislative Council, to ensure that “patriots rule Hong Kong”. The announcement sparked concern and criticism from the United States and the European Union, which said it would undermine Hong Kong’s fundamental freedoms, political pluralism and democratic principles.
In response, the EU called on the Chinese side to carefully consider any decision to reform Hong Kong’s electoral system and the political and economic impact it would have, as it would undermine Hong Kong’s fundamental freedoms, political pluralism and democratic principles. EU foreign affairs and security policy spokesman Nabila Massrali said Friday that the EU stands ready to take appropriate measures. The Biden administration denounced the changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system as a “direct attack” on Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic process, and said the U.S. side is working to “galvanize collective action” in the international community in response to China’s crackdowns in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press conference the same day, “The United States condemns the People’s Republic of China’s continued attacks on the democratic institutions of Hong Kong. At the opening session of the National People’s Congress on March 5, Wang Chen, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, prefaced a series of so-called ‘reforms’ to Hong Kong’s electoral system. These are a direct attack on Hong Kong’s autonomy, Hong Kong’s freedom and democratic process, restricting participation, reducing democratic representation, and stifling political debate in order to defy the clear will of the people of Hong Kong and deprive them of a voice in their own government and governance.”
Price said, “If implemented, these measures would seriously undermine Hong Kong’s democratic institutions and directly violate the Basic Law, which recognizes that Hong Kong’s elections should move toward universal suffrage. We call on the People’s Republic of China to honor its international obligations and commitments and to act in a manner consistent with the Basic Law of Hong Kong. We have said this from the beginning: the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong. The people of Hong Kong seek nothing more than the universal rights they rightfully deserve and should be guaranteed.”
Iain Duncan Smith, a former British Conservative leader and member of the House of Commons of Parliament, told the political news site Politico that “it is no longer enough to just say condemnation.” Smith, who co-chairs the Inter-Parliamentary Policy Alliance on China (IPAC), said, “Foreign ministers around the world, led by the United Kingdom, should seek to make clear to China that its violations of international law cannot go without consequences.”
Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, told reporters that it was “the biggest step yet to obliterate Hong Kong’s freedom and aspirations for greater democracy under the rule of law.” He said, “The Chinese Communist Party has broken all its promises, particularly those made by Deng Xiaoping, who stipulated that to be a patriot in China, one had to swear allegiance to the Communist Party.” Patten added, “This completely undermines the ‘one country, two systems’ oath. Once again, the CCP has shown the world that it cannot be trusted.”
In response to Beijing’s decision, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a Facebook post on Friday that she welcomed the fact that the National People’s Congress (NPC) would consider improving Hong Kong’s electoral system and implementing the policy of “patriots ruling Hong Kong. The SAR government also issued a statement saying it respects the central government’s leading role in improving the political system and will provide full cooperation.