In response to the draft amendment to the Hong Kong electoral system passed by the Communist Party’s National People’s Congress, the U.S. Department of State released a statement by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on March 11, condemning the Communist Party’s continued attacks on democracy in Hong Kong and calling on the authorities to release and drop the charges against the 47 primary voters.
The Communist Party’s National People’s Congress passed a draft amendment to Hong Kong’s electoral system on March 11 with 2,895 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention. The draft will increase the number of seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council from the current 70 to 90, with the additional 20 seats likely to be filled directly by members of the Chief Executive Election Committee. In addition, the number of seats in the district councils, known as “super district councils,” will be abolished, and the size of the Chief Executive Election Committee will be increased from the current 1,200 to 1,500 members. The Communist Party has also established a Qualifications Committee to eliminate Hong Kong candidates who the Communist Party sees as unfit for office.
The U.S. Department of State statement criticized the CCP’s forced changes to Hong Kong’s elections as a direct attack on the autonomy promised to the people of Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. By limiting political participation, reducing democratic representation and stifling political debate these actions deny the voice of Hong Kong people’s autonomy. Beijing‘s actions run counter to the clear recognition in the Basic Law that Hong Kong’s elections should be held in the direction of universal suffrage.
The statement also expressed the United States’ call for the CCP to adhere to its international obligations and commitments. The Chinese Communist Party has attempted to treat the crackdown on Hong Kong as an “internal affair,” ignoring the commitments made by Beijing in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
The statement said the United States calls on the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong authorities to allow the September 2021 Legislative Council elections to proceed and to ensure that all candidates are included and participate in a transparent and credible manner. It also called on the authorities to release and drop charges against all primary candidates who were prosecuted solely for campaigning or expressing opposing views.
The statement concluded that a stable and prosperous Hong Kong that respects human rights, freedom and pluralism is in the interests of Hong Kong, mainland China and the international community. The United States, along with its allies and partners, speaks out for the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.